Consumer trap Tara: Packaging must not cost anything, only the product

Consumer trap Tara: Packaging must not cost anything, only the product

The issue of the tare weight was actually clear: you have to pay for food, but not for the packaging. But in everyday life, this often doesn’t work. The reason is overwhelmed cashiers and eco-bags for vegetables.

On Friday, the Higher Administrative Court in Münster heard a case about liver sausage: Do the skin and metal clips belong to the product? Or to the packaging? You have to pay for the former, but not for the latter. The dispute actually seemed to have been settled by an EU regulation from 1976: According to this, the skin and clips on sausages belong to the product.

But the calibration office responsible for the Warendorf district referred to a newer regulation on food information that came into force in 2014. And banned the sale of a liver sausage where the skin and clips were included in the product weight. The administrative court ruled in favor of the calibration office, and the higher administrative court ruled in favor of the manufacturer on Friday, but allowed an appeal: because of the “fundamental importance”.

Basically, only the product costs money, not the packaging

Most consumers probably don’t mind paying for the sausage skin. Many probably don’t even know the rules in the food trade. In recent decades, things have become quieter about “tare”. Tare is the trade term for “packaging weight”, or more precisely, for the weight deduction for the packaging. Because basically you only have to pay for the product, not the package.

The tendency to pay only for the product is probably as old as trade itself. The word Tara comes from the Arabic “taraha”, which means “to remove” – ​​and came into German via Italian in the 14th century.

Tara-Nepp: There used to be many more complaints

In the past, there were many complaints to consumer advice centers: because at the weekly market, the packaging was often weighed and customers had to pay too much. Especially with high-quality products such as Parma ham or shrimp, this can easily amount to 50 cents or more.

With the supermarkets, the sale of pre-packaged goods became more common. Manufacturers adhered to the rules and complaints decreased. “It was mostly the older people who were interested in it,” Armin Valet from the Hamburg Consumer Advice Center told star“the younger ones not so much”. The knowledge of the Tara rules has also been lost to some extent.

But now the problem is back: With increasing environmental awareness, more and more customers are bringing their own packaging. The supermarkets themselves also offer reusable nets for fruit and vegetables. The staff at the checkouts are apparently not coping well with the different bags, pouches and nets. The Baden-Württemberg Consumer Center recently made 16 test purchases with reusable nets: In more than half of the cases, the test customers were overcharged.

A cotton bag for fruit weighs 56 grams

In addition, the new reusable bags are much heavier than the plastic bags: a cotton net that the consumer advocates bought in the store for their test weighed an impressive 56 grams. If you then only deduct the usual two grams of tare for the plastic bag, this is definitely significant. With expensive organic fruit, it is easy to pay a euro too much. Customers find this difficult to understand when shopping, because most stores do not show the tare on the receipts.

It still doesn’t seem as though the system has worked. In two of the test purchases carried out by the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Center, the stores charged too little. And anyone who uses the self-checkout at Edeka, for example, and weighs their own food is overwhelmed by the range of options: a Berlin branch, for example, had 18 tare amounts to choose from, from 2 to 222 grams.

Trade: no pain with the packaging rule

The BVLH food trade association also explains that it has no problem with the tare rules: “We adhere strictly to the calibration law,” says association lawyer Axel Haentjes. “If it is not entirely clear whether a package weighs two grams or four grams, then we simply deduct four grams from the weight.”

So what to do? When shopping, consumers should make sure that the tare button is pressed when weighing at the checkout. The cash register often indicates this. If you cannot find the correct tare weight at the self-checkout, it is best to weigh without a bag. The basic rule is: you only have to pay for the product, not the packaging.

Apart from the sausage. At least the clip and skin are still part of the product. Unless the North Rhine-Westphalian Calibration Office takes the product to the Federal Administrative Court – and that court may rule differently than the court in Münster.

Sources: , , Consumer Advice Center Hamburg,

Source: Stern

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