Germany has an excellent reputation for its high level of food safety. Institutions on the European, national, state and municipal level constantly monitor food products along the whole supply chain from the importer or producer to grocery stores and restaurants' kitchens, in order to ensure a high standard of quality. Manufacturers, importers, vendors and retailers are all responsible for the food they place on the market.
Generally, vendors of food products do not need a special registration or permission to do business, as long as their merchandise conforms with legal standards, such as the specific informational and labeling requirements, and as long as they do not pose any danger to consumers' health. Nevertheless, customs authorities may stop and investigate food imports. They especially may require an official laboratory report proving the product's safety, if a national or European institution has given an alert on the item/s.
General authorization requirements apply to the sale of novel foods. Furthermore, importers of dietetic food need to notify the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL - Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit).
Many standards in food hygiene have been harmonized in the Single European Market. Detailed information on the applicable legal framework is available on the website of the European Directorate General for Health and Consumers. Nevertheless, several stricter food safety standards apply on the national level. Due to the free movement of goods, even products that do not comply with these national requirements may enter the country, as long as they are legal in another EU member state. However, importers need a special permit, which is issued by the BVL, if their products do not comply with German food safety standards.
Further information on the import requirements for food products and organic food is available in our section ''Business Sectors''. Moreover, the BVL provides a comprehensive introduction to food safety in Germany on its website.