Food

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Changed on: 13.04.2017

Food

Food safety in Austria is ensured by high quality standards and a tight network of inspections that start at the manufacturers’ production plants and end with EU-wide monitoring programmes.

Foods sold and offered for sale in supermarkets, restaurants or other places are subject to inspection by the local Food Safety Authorities of the Austrian provinces. These businesses are examined and samples taken following a risk-based control plan. AGES assists the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs (BMGF) and the provinces in preparing sample and audit plans by means of its specialist knowledge.

About 30,000 food samples are analysed by AGES and the food examination centres in the provinces (Vienna, Carinthia and Vorarlberg) in Austria every year. The expert reports provided by these labs are passed on to the relevant authorities in the provinces. A total of 0.3 percent of the 28,158 food samples examined in 2014 was harmful to health (Food Safety Report 2014).

More information

Food safety in Austria is ensured by high quality standards and a tight network of inspections that start at the manufacturers’ production plants and end with EU-wide monitoring programmes.

Foods sold and offered for sale in supermarkets, restaurants or other places are subject to inspection by the local Food Safety Authorities of the Austrian provinces. These businesses are examined and samples taken following a risk-based control plan. AGES assists the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs (BMGF) and the provinces in preparing sample and audit plans by means of its specialist knowledge.

About 30,000 food samples are analysed by AGES and the food examination centres in the provinces (Vienna, Carinthia and Vorarlberg) in Austria every year. The expert reports provided by these labs are passed on to the relevant authorities in the provinces. A total of 0.3 percent of the 28,158 food samples examined in 2014 was harmful to health (Food Safety Report 2014).

More information

Food Safety Reports

The Austrian Food Safety and Consumer Protection Act (LMSVG) states that food safety reports must be issued on a yearly basis. These reports are essential for transparent consumer information and provide compact reference aids for all parties interested in the safety of foods and any items, toys and cosmetics that come into contact with them.  

The Food Safety Report 2014 summarises the results of official inspections carried out in 2014. It focuses on the results of conducting the sampling and audit plan (company inspections; sample taking). The inspections include all businesses along the food chain, ranging from agricultural businesses and industry to retail and catering firms. 

AGES and the Food Examination Centres of the provinces (Vienna, Carinthia and Vorarlberg) analysed and assessed about 28,200 samples in 2014, of which 0.3 percent was found harmful to health. Most complaints, as in previous years, referred to insufficient labelling or misrepresentation. These made up 9.1% of the samples. The total complaint rate was 15.9%.

 
Additionally, the provincial food safety authorities conducted 43,507 company inspections in 2014. Approximately 22, 975 of these inspections were carried out by the local veterinary authorities in butcher shops and 2,446 in dairy companies. The detailed results of these inspections can be found in the report.

The annual Food Safety Reports are published on the communication platform 'Consumer Health' run by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health. Link: Food Safety Reports 2010-2014.

Food Inspections

The inspection of goods subject to the LMSVG (foods, drinking water, food contact materials, toys, cosmetics) is organised indirectly as part of the federal administration in Austria.

Legislative power is in the hands of the federal government, while the execution of the laws is subject to the indirect federal administration in the provinces. Official food samples are taken by the local food safety authorities of the provinces. The samples are analysed and evaluated by AGES or the respective examination centres in Vienna, Carinthia and Vorarlberg. Should the evaluation result (official expert opinion) in a complaint, the relevant local authority (food safety authority) must undertake the appropriate measures.

Moreover, AGES assists the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the provinces in sample and audit planning and their reporting obligations with statistical and specialist knowledge and ensures the safe transfer of information between the provinces and to the European Commission (RASFF, RAPEX).

The official monitoring system is complex and coordinating its tasks and the departments involved is done by the BMG. Official inspections follow the principles of quality assurance to ensure standardised inspections and the use of a risk-based methodology. Food laws are harmonised within the European Union. Thus, foods in the entire EU market are subject to the same safety and labelling regulations. Goods are moved freely and actively between EU Member States.

Regulation compliance monitoring and controls are done on a national basis within the responsibility of the Member States, which are controlled in turn by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission (EC) on a regular basis. This should ensure that regulation compliance is checked equally reliably and sufficiently in all Member States. FVO control reports are published by the EC (The Food and Veterinary Office-Country Profiles). Should the FVO find any shortcomings or deficiencies in any national control systems, the Member States will be requested to remedy them. This will be checked at the next FVO visit.

There are also European Alert Systems for information transfer on health damaging or unsafe products in place between the relevant monitoring authorities of the Member States in addition to regular FVO visits, to ensure the free movement of goods and the protection of consumers. RASFF (for food and feed) and RAPEX (for toys and cosmetic products) can be mentioned in this context. Thus, shortcomings or faults can be detected quickly in the community-wide movement of goods, measures taken and potential effects on consumers kept to a minimum. The alerts are made public by the EC in the form of an overview.

The inspection of goods subject to the LMSVG (foods, drinking water, food contact materials, toys, cosmetics) is organised indirectly as part of the federal administration in Austria.

Legislative power is in the hands of the federal government, while the execution of the laws is subject to the indirect federal administration in the provinces. Official food samples are taken by the local food safety authorities of the provinces. The samples are analysed and evaluated by AGES or the respective examination centres in Vienna, Carinthia and Vorarlberg. Should the evaluation result (official expert opinion) in a complaint, the relevant local authority (food safety authority) must undertake the appropriate measures.

Moreover, AGES assists the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the provinces in sample and audit planning and their reporting obligations with statistical and specialist knowledge and ensures the safe transfer of information between the provinces and to the European Commission (RASFF, RAPEX).

The official monitoring system is complex and coordinating its tasks and the departments involved is done by the BMG. Official inspections follow the principles of quality assurance to ensure standardised inspections and the use of a risk-based methodology. Food laws are harmonised within the European Union. Thus, foods in the entire EU market are subject to the same safety and labelling regulations. Goods are moved freely and actively between EU Member States.

Regulation compliance monitoring and controls are done on a national basis within the responsibility of the Member States, which are controlled in turn by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission (EC) on a regular basis. This should ensure that regulation compliance is checked equally reliably and sufficiently in all Member States. FVO control reports are published by the EC (The Food and Veterinary Office-Country Profiles). Should the FVO find any shortcomings or deficiencies in any national control systems, the Member States will be requested to remedy them. This will be checked at the next FVO visit.

There are also European Alert Systems for information transfer on health damaging or unsafe products in place between the relevant monitoring authorities of the Member States in addition to regular FVO visits, to ensure the free movement of goods and the protection of consumers. RASFF (for food and feed) and RAPEX (for toys and cosmetic products) can be mentioned in this context. Thus, shortcomings or faults can be detected quickly in the community-wide movement of goods, measures taken and potential effects on consumers kept to a minimum. The alerts are made public by the EC in the form of an overview.

RASFF Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

RASFF Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

RASFF is run and coordinated by the European Commission. The objective is to make results from official inspections and tests in EU countries accessible to the food safety authorities of other EU countries as quickly as possible. All Member States and third countries that are part of the system are networked, thus, being able to exchange all information in connection with food safety quickly and effectively with each other and the European Commission.

More information

RASFF is run and coordinated by the European Commission. The objective is to make results from official inspections and tests in EU countries accessible to the food safety authorities of other EU countries as quickly as possible. All Member States and third countries that are part of the system are networked, thus, being able to exchange all information in connection with food safety quickly and effectively with each other and the European Commission.

More information

AGES Contact Point – Central Information Hub

Each EU Member State has a national contact point that is responsible for local information management within the respective country. The Austrian contact point is at AGES, in the Division for Food Safety, Contact and Support Centre, Salzburg. Feed is part of the AGES Food Security Division in Vienna. The AGES Contact Point assesses whether the product has found its way into Austria once it has been notified about a risk caused by food or animal feed from another EU Member State. Any alerts will be forwarded to the relevant authorities in the individual provinces, which in turn will undertake the necessary measures.

Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products

The European Rapid Alert System for Consumer Goods, except for pharmaceuticals and medicinal devices. The goal is to make results from inspections and tests conducted by the authorities and voluntary activities carried out by manufacturers and suppliers accessible to other EU countries as quickly as possible.

The European Rapid Alert System for Consumer Goods, except for pharmaceuticals and medicinal devices. The goal is to make results from inspections and tests conducted by the authorities and voluntary activities carried out by manufacturers and suppliers accessible to other EU countries as quickly as possible.

EFSA – European Food Safety Authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the key institution for risk assessment along the food chain at EU levels. It assesses risks in the fields of food safety, including animal health, animal protection and plant health and provides risk managers with independent scientific advice and a sound basis for ensuring consumer protection. The EFSA collaborates closely with national food safety authorities to achieve this.

Protection against Misrepresentation

The information and illustrations on the front of food packaging do not always contain sufficient information to give consumers a clear picture of the properties and character of a product. The front of the product package often features fancy names and descriptions. If such information is strongly emphasised, while other information that is essential for understanding and recognising the content is depicted less noticeably, it could be a case of misrepresentation. It is recommended to take a look at the actual name of the product and the list of ingredients, which must be shown on the good, to get information on whether the expectations of a product will be met. This information can usually be found on the back of the packaging. Further information, examples and explanations.

Internet Shopping

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Internetshopping

The following rules could help protect consumers from being mislead when buying food on the internet

Provider’s Internet Address

It is important to know that even if the address ends in ".at" this does not automatically mean that the provider is located in Austria. It is recommended to take a look at the imprint and the provider’s contact details.  

Company Headquarters and Legal Validity

The chances of enforcing consumer rights when problems occur are much better if the company is headquartered in Austria. Look carefully at any provisions on the governing law in the contract and/or the provider’s Terms & Conditions. In principle, the contract could, for example, state that it is not subject to Austrian or EU legislation.

Complaints and Terms of Payment

Check the provider’s contact details for completeness and plausibility before every order to increase your chances, should making a complaint be necessary. If in doubt, choose a “real shop” that offers internet shopping.

Consumers are advised to choose such terms of payments that enable them to pay after receiving and checking the goods sent (e.g. invoice included). When paying by credit card note: charges to the credit card that are not legitimate can be challenged within a 4 week period (some credit card companies offer 6 weeks).

Online Recommendations

Always remain sceptical of content in chat rooms and discussion forums. The “reviews” on these platforms can easily turn out to be disguised adverts.  

Food Supplements and Pharmaceuticals from the Internet

Food supplements are foods and not pharmaceuticals. The sale of medical products requiring a prescription on the internet is strictly forbidden for obvious safety reasons. This ban is in place to protect consumers from fake drugs that could endanger their health. Internet shops often sell capsules and tablets as food supplements. Consumers should check carefully whether all the effects promised comply with their own understanding of food or whether they would rather fall into the pharmaceutical (= prohibited) category. Regular checks show that slimming products and medication for treating erectile dysfunction often contain illegally added pharmaceutical substances to have the desired effect. This makes effective products dangerous. Such products should always be bought at controlled retail stores. In this case, cheap offers or so-called bargains could cost very dearly, indeed. 

Legal Information

Mandatory sections of an internet site offering online shopping in accordance with the Austrian E-Commerce Act

  • Name of the distributor or company
  • Geographical address 
  • Details to ensure a swift and immediate opportunity to contact the company/distributor, including email address
  • Overview of the total of the purchase: net price, VAT, other discounts or surcharges, post and packaging (valid throughout the EU) 
  • General Terms & Conditions (T&C) must be provided in storable and printable formats   
  • Explanation of all technical steps and requirements up to concluding the agreement 
  • Explanation of all possibilities to change order details or ordering process 
  • Access to saved agreement text after concluding the contract
  • Order confirmation per email

Food Safety

High quality standards and a tightly knit network of examinations and inspections, beginning with manufacturers and ending in EU-wide surveillance programmes, ensure Austrian food safety.

Food products placed in supermarkets, restaurants or other points of sale are subject to inspections carried out by the local food authorities in the provinces. Businesses are subject to inspections and sample-taking by the Austrian authorities in line with a risk-based control plan. AGES assists and supports the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the regional governments in the planning of audits and sample-taking through its expert knowledge.
AGES and the food examination laboratories in the federal territories (Vienna, Carinthia, Vorarlberg) test approximately 30,000 food samples in Austria every year. The expert reports compiled by these laboratories are sent to the relevant authorities in the provinces. Only 0.3 percent of a total of 28,158 food samples examined in 2014 were harmful to human health.
The data gathered across Austria is collected and published in the Food Safety Report (LMSB) on an annual basis. This report is a compact work of reference for all those who are interested in the safety of foods and items that get into contact with foods, toys and cosmetics.

AGES Food Analysis

AGES experts examine and assess foods and feedstuffs. Analyses range from tests for residues of animal drugs, hormones, plant protection products, mycotoxins and other contaminates to genetically modified organisms (GMO), as well as ingredients and additives used in foods and feedstuffs. The AGES Laboratories are National Reference Laboratories for Austria in a variety of fields.

Product Recalls and Product Warnings

AGES provides information on warnings and product recalls with regards to foods and children’s toys (in line with LMSVG – Food Safety and Consumer Protection Acts), as well as medicines and medicinal products (in line with AMG, MPG – Medicines Law, Medicinal Products Law).

AGES as Austria’s Contact for the EU Rapid Alert System

Each EU Member State has a national contact responsible for managing information inside its country. The Austrian contact point is at AGES. Once a risk caused by a food or animal feed product is reported by another EU Member State, the AGES contact office assesses whether this product has come to the Austrian market. The alerts are forwarded to the relevant government agencies in the provinces, which will then take the measures required.

High quality standards and a tightly knit network of examinations and inspections, beginning with manufacturers and ending in EU-wide surveillance programmes, ensure Austrian food safety.

Food products placed in supermarkets, restaurants or other points of sale are subject to inspections carried out by the local food authorities in the provinces. Businesses are subject to inspections and sample-taking by the Austrian authorities in line with a risk-based control plan. AGES assists and supports the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and the regional governments in the planning of audits and sample-taking through its expert knowledge.
AGES and the food examination laboratories in the federal territories (Vienna, Carinthia, Vorarlberg) test approximately 30,000 food samples in Austria every year. The expert reports compiled by these laboratories are sent to the relevant authorities in the provinces. Only 0.3 percent of a total of 28,158 food samples examined in 2014 were harmful to human health.
The data gathered across Austria is collected and published in the Food Safety Report (LMSB) on an annual basis. This report is a compact work of reference for all those who are interested in the safety of foods and items that get into contact with foods, toys and cosmetics.

AGES Food Analysis

AGES experts examine and assess foods and feedstuffs. Analyses range from tests for residues of animal drugs, hormones, plant protection products, mycotoxins and other contaminates to genetically modified organisms (GMO), as well as ingredients and additives used in foods and feedstuffs. The AGES Laboratories are National Reference Laboratories for Austria in a variety of fields.

Product Recalls and Product Warnings

AGES provides information on warnings and product recalls with regards to foods and children’s toys (in line with LMSVG – Food Safety and Consumer Protection Acts), as well as medicines and medicinal products (in line with AMG, MPG – Medicines Law, Medicinal Products Law).

AGES as Austria’s Contact for the EU Rapid Alert System

Each EU Member State has a national contact responsible for managing information inside its country. The Austrian contact point is at AGES. Once a risk caused by a food or animal feed product is reported by another EU Member State, the AGES contact office assesses whether this product has come to the Austrian market. The alerts are forwarded to the relevant government agencies in the provinces, which will then take the measures required.


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