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Consumer Information Act


The Act to Improve Health-Related Consumer Information (VIG), or Consumer Information Act for short, entered into force on 1 May 2008. Since then, the food control authorities of the Länder have in principle been obliged to grant consumers the right to information. This right to information has been extended by the amendment of the law since September 2012. In the future, consumers will not only be able to obtain information about food, feed and consumer goods, cosmetics or wine, but also about technical consumer products within the meaning of the Product Safety Act, such as household appliances, furniture or DIY articles.

The information is provided by the competent body upon request, the application should contain the name and address of the applicant, as well as specific information on the question. The rejection of major applications is possible in accordance with section 4 para. 3 VIG.

The right to receive information for everyone includes:

  • inadmissible derogations from feed and food law,
  • hazards/risks posed by products or consumer products to consumers;
  • access to data on the composition and nature of products and consumer products;
  • labelling, provenance, use, manufacture and treatment of products and consumer products;
  • Starting materials and the processes used for the extraction of starting materials
  • Monitoring measures, evaluation of these activities, statistics on infringements.

The right to the provision of information must be fulfilled, provided that there are no grounds for exclusion or limitation, which may arise in particular from § 3 VIG.

VIG also includes the option of actively informing consumers without a request from the competent authority.
With the amendment of the Food, Consumer Articles and Feed Code (LFBG), all legal violations due to limit value exceedances are published by the competent authority.

The published data must be secured: Therefore, publication may only take place if two independent analysis results from accredited laboratories are available. All other violations, for example against hygiene regulations, will also be published if a fine of at least 350.00 euros is to be expected.

In the case of active publication, the following applies: Affected companies must always be consulted beforehand. Exceptions are only permitted in case of imminent danger.

Who should I contact?

The responsibility lies with

  • the district, the independent city, the Hanover region and the Zweckverband Veterinäramt JadeWeser
  • at the Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (LAVES)
  • at the Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Regional Development (ML)
  • at the respective State Trade Inspectorate

In order to be able to assess which body is the right contact person for an enquiry under the Act on the Improvement of Health-Related Consumer Information (VIG), the tasks of these bodies relating to VIG are listed on the website on the Internet.

Which documents are required?

Documents may be required. Please contact the competent authority.

What are the fees?

Consumer inquiries up to an administrative expense of 250.00 euros are free of charge.

If there is a violation of the law by a company, the inquiries are free of charge up to an amount of 1,000.00 euros.

In all other respects, there is a full obligation to pay costs. Before charging costs, the applicant should be informed of their expected amount. He has the right to withdraw or restrict his application.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

Deadlines may have to be observed. Please contact the competent authority.

Applications / forms

It should be noted that the requested information/information results from the informal application as clearly and unambiguously as possible.

An application should contain:

  • specific name of the product (e.g. lead contamination in toy dolls of brand XY);
  • specific period of time (e.g. test results for a specific product from a certain time;
  • are manufacturer's specifications required?;
  • spatial limitation (e.g. restriction to products in certain food markets).

Unless the request clearly indicates this, clarification is necessary so that the processing time may be extended.

Appeal

Objections and actions for avoidance do not have suspensive effect in the case of requests for information pursuant to section 2 para. 1 sentence 1 no. 1 of the Act for the Improvement of Health-Related Consumer Information (VIG).

What else should I know?

If the interests of third parties are affected by the application, the persons concerned will be heard and can comment.
This extends the decision-making deadlines for the competent authority by a further month. This can increase processing times.

Hearings may also take place at short notice and orally. In the case of infringements of the law and in other cases of particular urgency, the competent authority may even dispense entirely with a hearing.

Technically approved by

Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety

Author

The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)