Why is misleading packaging not illegal?

Sham packs: tricks with air and a false bottom

Sham packaging for food

In order to pretend more content, food manufacturers often surround their products with a disproportionate amount of air, operate with double bottoms, large lids, thick walls or simply oversized outer boxes. According to the Measurement and Verification Act, such deception maneuvers are prohibited.

The problem for consumers, however, is that there are no specific provisions in the law as to when a sham package is present. Only a guideline from an administrative guideline specifies that there should not be more than 30 percent air in the package. Although food law (Food Information Regulation) also prohibits providing misleading information about food, especially with regard to the quantity, in the event of complaints by consumers, the individual case must always be assessed.

Not all oversized food packaging is prohibited. For example, there is no deception when consumers expect a disproportion between the content and size of the packaging. For example, in the case of contents that are easy to feel, packaging with a viewing window or transparent outer packaging, or praline packs that may be packaged in such a way that the volume of the packaging is six times the weight of the praline. Example: If the praline weighs 10 grams, it can be surrounded by packaging that is six times as large (up to 60 milliliters of packaging volume).

The vague regulations make it difficult to consistently prevent cheating and avoid unnecessary packaging waste. That is why we consider it sensible and necessary to issue specific regulations and to adapt legal texts, according to which every packaging should be filled to the edge or to the seam.

Exceptions should only be permitted in cases that can be proven to be technically necessary, with an upper limit of 30 percent free space in the pack. This would simplify the implementation by the calibration authorities and effectively protect consumers from "air numbers".

You should defend yourself anyway: Anyone who suspects that they have bought food in a "sham package" can contact:

Attention: Less content, same price

Producers like to reduce the filling quantities, but by no means reduce the price at the same time. Manufacturers use notes such as "new recipe" or "better quality" to disguise price increases. If you look closely, there are suddenly no longer 200 grams in the chip packaging, but only 175 grams of chips. However, the price has remained the same; only the design of the packaging has been changed slightly. Or the package of crispbread suddenly lacks 15 grams for the same price, which often goes unnoticed by the consumer.

Hidden price increases that are reported to consumer advice centers or that we have found ourselves in retail are presented in this picture gallery: