top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

NGO lists ‘worst Christmas food rip-offs and scams in France’

Excess packaging, ‘shrinkflation’, products six times more expensive than usual, mushroom stuffing with only 0.9% mushroom… Foodwatch identifies festive offenders

A photo of a woman shopping in a supermarket with a Christmas snow concept

Shoppers buying food for Christmas and New Year are warned to be alert to excess packaging, ‘special’ pricing, additives, and shrinkflation Pic: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Excess packaging, misleading labelling, hidden additives, inflated prices…In a new list, French food NGO Foodwatch has identified some of the most common ‘rip-offs’ in France in the run-up to Christmas.

The list includes the top 10 products that it found were the most misleading. Foodwatch has called the list its “Christmas table of scams”.

Excess packaging

The NGO said that several products have so much packaging that they mislead the consumer into thinking they are buying much more than they really are. 

For example:

  • Chocolate ‘snowballs’ sold by Milka and Oreo - 75% empty packaging

  • Iced bûche Signature Grand Chocolat by Nestlé - 75% empty packaging

  • Smoked salmon with dill and lemon sold at Auchan - 55% just packaging

  • Truffle potatoes sold under the brand Findus - 48% air in the pack


The term ‘shrinkflation’ is used to describe the practice of reducing the size or quantity of a product, while keeping the price the same. Foodwatch said some products had clearly done this.

This included:

  • Pyrénéens Lindt chocolates. Foodwatch said: “The brand got rid of six mouthfuls for each pack, which now contains 24 chocolates instead of 30 before. For 20% less chocolate, you will now pay 18% more per kilo at Carrefour.”

Misleading packaging

Foodwatch also found that some products had misleading packaging. 

For example:

  • Roast turkey with morel mushroom stuffing from Maître CoQ. 

The NGO said that the packaging suggests that mushrooms are present in large quantities in the stuffing, when in fact the product contains only 0.9% mushroom. 

Foodwatch said that the small quantity was not the issue in itself but that the packaging shows large morel mushrooms, and suggests that the mushrooms make up a large percentage of the product.

‘Christmas’ pricing

Foodwatch said that some supermarkets and products appear to be offering high prices on some products as part of tempting Christmas displays. 

For example:

  • At Carrefour, a small jar of Guérande fleur de sel was being sold at €2.99 for 25 grams, or €120 per kilo, and was deliberately placed next to the smoked salmon in the holiday section to encourage customers to buy them together

Yet, if customers went to the spices and salt section elsewhere in the supermarket, there are jars and bags of the same kind of salt “up to six times’ cheaper per kilo for the same product composition, depending on the brand”, the NGO said.

Shoppers are always advised to check prices per kilo before buying.

Additives in Christmas products

Foodwatch also identified some products being sold specially for Christmas and New Year, which contain far more additives and controversial ingredients than they suggest.

For example: 

  • Lumpfish eggs branded under Carrefour Extra included “five additives including colouring agents,  including ammonium sulfite caramel E150d, which may contain substances classified as possible carcinogens; as well as preservatives and thickeners”.

  • Macarons with foie gras by the brand Labeyrie, which contain nitrites that can be a health hazard

  • Small Christmas tree-shaped puff pasties from the Blini brand, made with controversial palm oil, which has been linked to deforestation

Foodwatch called on food manufacturers to “stop misleading customers”.

Related articles

Traditional French Christmas food and a very modern bûche de Noël

The deadlines for sending Christmas gifts to and from France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Visa and residency cards for France*
Featured Help Guide
- Visas and residency cards (cartes de séjour) for France help guide - Understand when visas and residency cards are required to move to France or come for an extended stay - Applies to Britons (post-Brexit) and to all other non-EU/non-EEA/Swiss nationalities - Useful to anyone considering a move to France, whether for work or otherwise, or wanting to spend more than three months at their French second home
Get news, views and information from France