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And once again, it did not take long for the first warning letters to be issued due to justified or alleged deficiencies in the implementation of the provisions of the new Food Information Regulation (LMIV).

As a reminder, the Food Information Regulation regulates the uniform labelling of food in the European Union (EU) and has been binding in all EU member states since 13 December 2014. In Germany, it has replaced the old Food Labelling Ordinance (LMKV).

I have now received the warning letter of a Wein-Plus member from the Verbraucherschutzverein gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb e.V., Maisacherstraße 6, 82256 Fürstenfeldbruck.

In the past, the VSV has also distinguished itself through warning letters the "classic" violations: faulty general terms and conditions and revocation instructions, as well as insufficient fulfilment of further information obligations were often the reasons.

Apparently, online wine traders in particular have now become the focus of the SAAM.The present case is about the accusation that my client sells wine without pointing out the allergens contained in it - in this case sulphites. The VSV's warning letter literally states:

"According to Art. 14 para. 1 lit a. LIMV (Food Information Regulation) all mandatory information according to Art. 9 and 10 LMIV must be made available for each pre-packaged food before the conclusion of the sales contract and must be indicated 'on the carrier material of the distance selling transaction'. The only exceptions to this are the best-before date and the use-by date (Art. 9(1)(f) LMIV). Bottled wines are also "pre-packaged food" in the sense of this provision.

Accordingly, if wines are offered for sale at a distance, all the necessary information must be provided on the article page at the latest, which enables the order process to be initiated by placing the goods in the shopping basket, or at least there must be a link to an alternative page providing this information at this point in time at the latest.

It is true that wine regularly has a higher alcohol content than 1.2% by volume. Nevertheless, the exception of Art. 16 para. 4 LIMV(!?), according to which a list of ingredients (Art. 9 para. 1 lit. b. LIMV) listing all ingredients and thus also the reference to sulphites present in the liquid might not be required in distance selling, is not relevant. Nor does a corresponding obligation arise from Art. 3 para. 3 of the Wine Market Organisation Implementing Regulation (VO (EG) no. 753/2002), since the EU regulation referred to only means the obligation for physical labelling with the designation "contains sulphites" on wine labels. Nevertheless, the corresponding information is mandatory in distance selling. Because according to Art. 9 para. 1 lit. c. LIMV(!?), allergen labelling is obligatory for alcoholic beverages. In this respect, within the list of ingredients, reference must be made to such ingredients and processing materials as well as their derivatives which are mentioned in Annex II as allergenic substances. Sulphites are explicitly mentioned in Annex II No. 12 and must be indicated if they are present in concentrations of more than 10 mg/I in the product. Wines regularly contain such quantities or concentrations, so that the presence of sulphites must always be indicated in distance selling".

Did you notice? Obviously, the text was written very superficially, because the author, board member Mr Martin Huber, confuses several times the abbreviation "LIMV" with the correct "LMIV".

Furthermore, in another paragraph it states:

"According to case law, it is not sufficient to simply amend or remove the objected GTC". Well - is this suddenly about defective GTCs? This was probably a text module overlooked by Mr Huber from an earlier warning letter - not very convincing.

Nevertheless, I ask you once again to take the provisions of the LMIV seriously and to check your range of goods very carefully.

If you are one of the traders who have already received a warning letter and are supposed to issue a cease-and-desist declaration within a short period of time, I urgently warn you not to sign this pre-formulated cease-and-desist declaration without checking it. Irrespective of the legality of a warning letter, with your signature you are binding yourself for life to the provisions contained therein and future violations can result in very expensive contractual penalties.

I will be happy to advise you in the event of a warning letter and am available to answer any questions you may have about the new LMIV. For wein.plus members, the initial consultation is completely free of charge!

Hans-Peter Kröger.
- Lawyer -
Höhenring 98
D-53913 Swisttal-Heimerzheim
Tel.: 02254/830-100
Fax: 02254/830-880

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