Goodbye scam packages – consumer portal relies on the crowd
“Fruit yogurt” without fruit, “sheep’s cheese” made with cow’s milk and a “light snack”, which turns out to be a sugar bomb. When buying food at the supermarket, we often have to study the fine print. Many manufacturers say their products are better for us than they really are. This in not only unfair to the consumer, but can also be really dangerous – when alcohol is hidden in whipped cream or chocolate contains traces of nuts, allergies can be triggered for unassuming customers.
There are already many rules and guidelines on food labeling. But who should monitor this, considering the masses of products that now fill our supermarket shelves? German consumer centers and the Federal Ministry of Food and Consumer Protection have now found out the answer: They seek help from the crowd!
Now any consumer can report products that are packaged incorrectly or deceptively advertised at www.lebensmittelklarheit.de. From a list of content that is written too small to read, or to misleading images or packaging that are way too big for the content they contain – the operators of the portal accept messages, vet them and have the option to put the products online with photos and a statement of the manufacturer.
The food industry fears the public pillory and side effects of the portal and even expressed doubts about its legality. Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner on the other hand, sees the portal as a chance. “I want to initiate a serious dialogue between consumers and business. Dialogue is the opposite of pillory,” she told the press. In some cases, the dialog had already begun. In fact you can already find items on www.lebensmittelklarheit.de where the presentation has been changed after appearing on the portal. For example, the packaging of a ground beef mixture now clearly states “the addition of vegetable protein”, and one manufacturer even changed his coffee recipe . Other companies have also announced changes.
Once again, politics is working with the crowd. And once again, it shows an effect. The mass of consumers will not be fooled any longer.