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Purpose: Consumer information
Chair: Thilo Bode
Date of establishment: 2002
Number of members: 80 voting members
Seat : Berlin

Foodwatch e. V. ( English food 'food' and watch 'watch') is a German non-profit ideal association that deals with the rights of consumers and the quality of food .

The association was founded in October 2002 in Berlin by the former Greenpeace managing director Thilo Bode . The board of directors within the meaning of the law and the managing director are Bode and, from April 2017 to February 2021, the former journalist Martin Rücker . While Bode is the director of foodwatch International, Rücker managed the organization in Germany. Foodwatch has had an office in Amsterdam since 2010, in Paris since 2014 and in Vienna since 2020.

Foodwatch is one of the 78 associations in Germany that are allowed to carry out a model declaratory action .


The purpose of the association is to “advise and inform consumers in the field of agricultural and food production, trade and sales of consumer goods and the provision of services”. The association also pursues political goals: rules and laws in Europe and the EU member states should consistently give priority to the interests of consumers with regard to food. The association is entitled to take an association action .


According to its own information, the association had more than 37,000 sponsors in November 2017; This includes non-voting sponsoring members, voting sponsoring members and one-time donors. The Foodwatch Supervisory Board, which currently consists of five people, determines the admission of voting members. Foodwatch does not officially publish the number of voting members; in an interview with Handelsblatt in January 2015, Thilo Bode spoke of 80 voting members. According to the statutes, it should not be more than 100, accordingly Foodwatch's advertising is focused on sponsors and donors.


According to its own information, Foodwatch is financed “from the contributions of the sponsoring members and from donations”. There will be no state subsidies; Donations from business are only accepted if they do not result in any conflicts of interest. Between 2002 and 2005 around 1.5 million euros were available to build up the organization, mainly through long-term loans from the GLS community bank and private individuals.

In 2019, the association achieved income of around 3.6 million euros, 87 percent of which came from grants and small donations, 12 percent from large donations, inheritance and from foundations and 2 percent from other sources (according to the organization, travel expense reimbursements for lectures and Media appearances, reimbursements from foodwatch Netherlands and foodwatch France to foodwatch Germany, fees from lectures, interest income and payments from fine proceedings). According to the information, the expenditure in 2019 amounted to around 3.2 million euros. They were used for campaigns (63 percent), media and public relations (8 percent), support and service (8 percent), fundraising (10 percent) and administration (11 percent).


Foodwatch mainly takes up media-related topics such as food scandals and thereby positions itself publicly as a lobby organization for consumers towards the food industry. To do this, the organization runs campaigns based on the Greenpeace model; the best known is the substance acrylamide , which can be produced when foods containing carbohydrates are heated . For several years now, Foodwatch has been regularly testing potato chips and Christmas cookies for the suspected cancerous acrylamide. Potato chips were tested in August 2007.

In 2003, Foodwatch uncovered misleading McDonald’s advertisements . The company had promised to offer buns with no chemical additives, which wasn't true. After the intervention of Foodwatch, McDonald's changed the slogan to "natural baking additives". This in turn was a violation of the Food Act . Foodwatch stepped in again, whereupon McDonald's signed a cease and desist declaration in 2005 .

At the beginning of 2007 the association filed a complaint against the companies SNP (belongs to the food company Vion NV ), GePro ( PHW group ), the fertilizer dealer Beckmann and the veterinary offices of the districts of Diepholz, Emsland, Oldenburg and Vechta. The complaint was based on the allegation that the companies are conducting illegal trade in meat and bone meal ( K3 material ) and that the authorities would aid in this. Although this type of waste and the meat and bone meal produced from it are not allowed to enter the human food chain, the consumer protection organization has found relevant information. The investigations initiated by the public prosecutor's office revealed that the flour trade actually took place, but with the approval of the responsible authorities and was therefore not a criminal offense. However, the permits themselves violated applicable laws. Since aid only exists from a legal point of view if the main offense is punishable, the investigations against both the companies and the offices were discontinued at the end of 2007. The approval practice of the authorities was then changed.

In 2008, based on its own data collection, the organization criticized official measured values ​​from the federal states that in some places in Germany the drinking water was more heavily contaminated with uranium than previously known. Above all, the information policy of the authorities was called into question and the demand was made that the consumer should be informed about the uranium content of his drinking water with the next water bill. The Drinking Water Ordinance does not provide for a maximum value for uranium. In 2006, after Foodwatch research and a lawsuit for information, a limit value for uranium was included in the Mineral Water Ordinance : Mineral and table water advertised as "suitable for the preparation of baby food" has since then been allowed to contain no more than 2 µg uranium per liter . In advance, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment had already demanded that mineral water for baby food must be free of uranium. The Federal Environment Agency criticized, however, that the new ordinance would lead to an overestimation of the risk, since water only becomes dangerous for the preparation of baby food from 10 µg uranium per liter.

In 2016, the association published a study on the sugar content of soft drinks combined with the demand that, similar to what is planned in Great Britain from 2018, a levy should be levied on sugared drinks in order to reduce the habituation of consumers to sweet foods and around Counteract obesity and diabetes .

Since March 2009, the organization has been awarding the golden cream puff as a negative price for “the most brazen advertising lie of the year” in order to point out the difference between advertised quality promises and the actual properties of food. The 2017 award winner was Alete's children's biscuit .


In 2010 there were disputes between the association and the then Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection , Ilse Aigner ( CSU ). Foodwatch chairman Thilo Bode criticized "Politicians no longer want to decide anything against the industry" and described Aigner as a "service provider for the food industry". Aigner criticized that Bode lived from "scandalization" as a business model. She considers "campaigns that stir up a climate of uncertainty to be questionable".

In 2012 the association was defeated in court against the Unilever group . Foodwatch accused Unilever of misleading advertising because Unilever had alleged that there was no evidence of possible health risks from the “ Becel pro.activ” margarine . The court interpreted Unilever's testimony as an expression of opinion - and not as an assertion of fact, which is why it was admissible.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Catrin Bialek, Hans-Jürgen Jakobs : Controversy - "Now let me finish!" In: Handelsblatt . January 15, 2015, p. 4-7 .
  2. Managing Director Martin Rücker leaves foodwatch. foodwatch, February 26, 2021, accessed March 6, 2021 .
  3. Change in leadership at foodwatch in Germany: Martin Rücker succeeds Thilo Bode as managing director - the aim is to set up a European consumer organization
  4. foodwatch in Europe - an overview. Foodwatch, accessed on December 5, 2020 (at).
  5. Federal Office of Justice: List of qualified institutions in accordance with Section 4 of the Injunctive Action Act (UKlaG). Retrieved June 6, 2019 .
  7. Our Mission , website of the association
  8. foodwatch: Support now: foodwatch - the food savers. Retrieved September 11, 2018 .
  9. foodwatch fights for consumer rights. Retrieved April 4, 2017 .
  10. The board of foodwatch. Retrieved January 23, 2015 .
  11. Articles of Association of the Foodwatch e. V. (PDF) Archived from the original on February 11, 2015 ; accessed on January 23, 2015 .
  12. Founded in 2002 as a “start-up NGO”. Retrieved December 30, 2010 .
  13. foodwatch's finances. In: Retrieved May 27, 2021 .
  14. NDR television: Inquiry: How much toxic acrylamide is there in potato chips? September 24, 2007, archived from the original on November 10, 2007 ; Retrieved December 30, 2010 .
  15. McDonald's changes burger advertising after criticism from consumer advocates. In: The mirror . October 4, 2003. Retrieved May 26, 2017 .
  16. Complaints from Foodwatch were successful: McDonald's withdraws advertising campaign. In: Rheinische Post . October 5, 2003. Retrieved May 26, 2017 .
  17. Nutrition: Partial victory in the burger war. In: The mirror . April 4, 2005, accessed on May 26, 2017 (Spiegel print edition 14/2005, p. 18).
  18. Dieter Nürnberger: Foodwatch on the new meat scandal. Deutschlandradio , February 21, 2007, accessed on December 30, 2010 .
  19. foodwatch: Proceedings due to the smuggling of meat and bone meal have been discontinued. April 8, 2007, accessed December 30, 2010 .
  20. Fourth ordinance amending the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance, Federal Law Gazette I 2006, 2762 f. Of December 11, 2006 No. 56
  21. BfR press release 22/2005. June 30, 2005, accessed December 30, 2010 .
  22. ^ Newsletter of the Baden-Württemberg Professional Association. (PDF; 412 kB) Accessed December 30, 2010 .
  23. foodwatch market study: More than every second soft drink contains sugar - foodwatch demands sugar levy for beverage manufacturers . foodwatch, August 24, 2016
  24. "Advertisement lie of the year" Alete receives a golden cream puff in Spiegel online from November 28, 2017, accessed on December 3, 2017
  25. Foodwatch boss accuses Minister Aigner of failure . Spiegel Online , September 2010
  26. Wirtschaftswoche, November 6, 2010.