The main aim of food law is to protect consumers from damage to their health. Numerous requirements and prohibitions are intended to protect the citizen from damage to health caused by the consumption of food.
Food law includes all legal norms concerning the extraction, production, composition, nature and quality of foodstuffs and their designation, presentation, packaging and labeling. The implementation and monitoring of the regulations on cosmetic products and consumer goods is also the task of food monitoring. Tobacco products are no longer subject to food law. A separate legal area has been created for them. In addition to the protection of human health, the aim of food law is to protect the general public from deception and misleading information.
Within the framework of the German Food and Feed Code (LFGB) and the Tobacco Products Act, the Tobacco Products Act and food law are structured as ancillary criminal law and violations are subject to fines and criminal sanctions (§§ 58 ff LFGB and §§ 34 ff Tobacco Products Act). Further penalties and fines are contained in the Food Law Penalty and Fine Ordinance. A distinction must be made between the punishment of a violation as an administrative offense and the punishment as a criminal offense. A criminal offense is an unlawful and culpable act or omission that is punishable by law. For example, it is a criminal offense if someone produces or treats food in such a way that its consumption is likely to harm health, or if someone markets substances that are likely to harm human health as cosmetic products.
The courts can impose prison sentences of up to three years or fines and, in particularly serious cases, prison sentences of up to five years for established violations of food law regulations. In addition, convictions under general criminal law are also possible, e.g. for bodily injury or fraud.
Not all violations of food regulations require criminal sanctions. In the vast majority of cases, only warnings are issued or penalty notices are issued in practice. Fines are issued for administrative offenses. A misdemeanor is an unlawful and reproachable act that meets the requirements of a law that allows it to be punished with a fine. For example, it is an administrative offense to negligently advertise foodstuffs in connection with illnesses. The administrative authorities are responsible for prosecuting and punishing administrative offenses, i.e. the fine proceedings are usually initiated by the district administrative authorities or the Bavarian Food Safety and Veterinary Control Authority. They also issue any warnings.