According to the EU Food Information Regulation (LMIV), the packaging of a food product intended for sale that contains several individual packages must also indicate both the filling weight and the number of individual packages contained, even if the individual packages are small individual pieces – such as individually wrapped candies. This was decided by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.
The applicant markets the sweets and chocolate specialties it manufactures, inter alia, in bags containing several pieces individually wrapped with candy wrappers or wrapped in a similar manner. During an official inspection, the State Office for Metrology and Verification of the defendant state of Rhineland-Palatinate found that several of the products offered for sale in this way indicated the total weight of the candy, but not the number of pieces contained. It criticized the absence of the information and initiated administrative offence proceedings against one of the plaintiff’s employees. The plaintiff then turned to the administrative court with the request to declare that it did not violate the relevant regulations of the LMIV when it put certain products of its assortment on the market without indicating the number of pieces contained. The action was unsuccessful; the appeal filed against this was rejected by the Higher Administrative Court.
The plaintiff’s appeal was also unsuccessful. According to Art. 23 para. 1 and 3 in conjunction with. Annex IX No. 4 LMIV, the total net quantity and the total number of individual packages must be indicated on a prepackage consisting of two or more individual packages that are not to be regarded as sales units. The applicant’s products are subject to this provision. There is no evidence in the relevant Union law to support its assumption that the provision does not apply to prepackages containing smaller, individually packaged pieces. The obligation to indicate the number of pieces contained in the packaging does not disproportionately interfere with the fundamental rights of food business operators. The claim has an additional information value for consumers and promotes the purpose pursued by the LMIV to enable them to choose the food that suits their needs when making their purchasing decision. This requirement does not place an undue burden on food business operators. In particular, according to the findings of the Court of Appeal to be taken as a basis, it is possible for them, even in view of production-related fluctuations in the weight of the individual items, to state the total weight and number of items in such a way that they do not infringe the regulations on the maximum permissible deviations in filling quantities.
Online retailers in particular, who could quickly be exposed to warning letters, should check this in their inventory.