Foodwatch – almost every second food warning is delayed

Foodwatch - almost every second food warning is delayed

An investigation by the consumer protection organization Foodwatch shows that the state website lebensmittelwarnung.de often provides information about company food recalls too late or not at all. In the past, this also included life-threatening food contaminants.

Glass slices in cucumber jar, plastic particles in Nasi Goren, fipronil in eggs – the state platform lebensmittelwarnung.de informs consumers about food recalls. So can you trust the portal? Foodwatch has now taken a closer look at the page and analyzed over 90 product recalls and product warnings. The investigation, which is available to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, shows: The site reports on almost every second recall with a delay – or not at all.

Lebensmittelwarnung.de: Foodwatch criticizes delays

In the spring, for example, the portal only reported a potentially harmful substance in an organic baby tea after three days. Just as late came the announcement of metal splinters in net sausages and the warning of cheese, in which E. coli bacteria were suspected, which could lead to bloody diarrhea and, in the worst case, death.

The federal government and the federal states had set up the lebensmittelwarnung.de portal in 2011 as a central contact point for consumers – above all in response to the EHEC outbreak with dozens of deaths. Martin Rückert, Managing Director at Foodwatch Germany thinks the site is a good idea, but in his opinion it doesn’t work in its current form.

It cannot be that consumers have to wait weeks for life-threatening products before they are informed nationwide, he told the .

There was a recent product recall because fipronil was found in eggs.

No uniform regulation and the "Friday problem"

The problem: There is no fixed regulation that determines which channels a company must use to warn of unsafe food. The companies themselves make the decision as to how the information is published.

For this reason, the authorities often only get the call back too late. Some companies have a large press distributor, others only pass the information on to selected media or provide information via Facebook and Twitter, says Foodwatch CEO Rückert.

Another reason is the so-called "Friday problem", says Gert Kretschmann, operator of the private warning portal produktrueckprechen.de. Because many food warnings come on Friday afternoons or evenings, when the officials are often after work, recalls are only set aside on Monday. He himself is usually earlier with his reports than the state portal.

The consumer protection ministry in Baden-Württemberg confirms this assumption. It justifies the delay in a letter to Foodwatch with the weekend in between, the turn of the year or the Christmas holidays.

Consumer protection: alternative portals for consumer warnings

In addition to food warnings.de there are other websites of private, non-profit and independent organizations that provide information about product recalls and represent consumer interests.

  • : Provides information free of charge about product recalls, product warnings and safety instructions for dangerous products. Also as a newsletter, Whatsapp and iPhone app.
  • : Provides free information on product recalls and consumer warnings for end users. Also via app in real time. For Beligien, Denmark, France, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland.
  • : Provides information about product recalls, especially for children and babies. Parents can also find further information and advice on child safety here.
  • Product warnings and product recalls in Austria. Also as an app for iPhone and Android and RSS feed.
  • Provides information, advice and support in matters of private consumption and pursues legal violations by companies.
  • Provides background information, research and research on unsafe practices in the food industry.
  •  Does not directly control products, but reports and clarifies about internet abuse, internet fraud and (also related to products) false reports or fakes on the internet.

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