SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Confectionery & Biscuit Processing

Read more breaking news

 

 

EU lawmakers to discuss companies selling poorer quality food in Eastern Europe

Post a comment
Niamh Michail

By Niamh Michail+

28-Feb-2017
Last updated on 28-Feb-2017 at 13:26 GMT2017-02-28T13:26:29Z

© iStock/hansslegers
© iStock/hansslegers

The EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council will discuss the issue of dual quality foods next week as Slovakia and Hungary push for EU legislation to prevent manufacturers selling poorer quality products in Eastern countries of the single market bloc.

Delegates at an Agriculture and Fisheries Council will discuss the issue at a meeting scheduled for 6 March.

“Guaranteeing the quality of identical foodstuffs in free movement within the European market is a principal issue in order to meet consumers’ expectations. On the other hand certain practices in trade with foodstuffs also merit due attention,” reads a note  compiled by the countries to be studied at the meeting.

“Therefore Slovakia and Hungary propose to open again the discussion of the issues raised in this note, and ask the Commission to consider appropriate action including legislation at EU level.”

Slovakian authorities recently conducted laboratory analyses of 22 food products and found considerable differences in 10 products (four milk products, two beverages, one fish product, one seasoning, one sweet product and one tea).

The quality issues concerned swapping real fruit for colourings and fruit flavourings, replacing animal fats for plant-based fats, a lower meat content, using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar or even a lower quality packaging.

The Hungarian analysis revealed that Knorr powdered soup with meatballs and noodles has almost twice as many meatballs in Austria than in Hungary, for instance.

The note says that based on the general public interest, Hungary and Slovakia will continue to carry out further investigations to protect consumers and their trust in the quality of food throughout the EU.

Companies implicated include PepsiCo, Ferrero, Nestlé and Danone.

'Impertinent manipulation'

The issue is not new nor are Hungary and Slovakia the only countries to have raised the issue.

Last year the Czech Republic tabled the issue at an AG committee meeting, arguing that consumers are being misled. “Regardless of a region or a particular country, products from one producer and of the same name should be of the same quality and should have the same content of ingredients for all consumers,” it said.

A survey commissioned by the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (CAFIA) questioned 1000 consumers on the issue and found the overwhelming majority (88%) said they felt “annoyed and offended”. Over one third (36%) said it amounted to “impertinent manipulation” and only 4% said they did not mind. 

Solving the issue, however may not be as simple as it seems.

EU law protects consumers across the bloc from ingredients that are dangerous and unsafe to eat, but it doesn't legislate on maintaining an equal quality for foods that are manufactured by the same company or sold under the same brand.

The note by Hungary and Slovakia and sent to the AGFISH committee confirms that food safety is not being compromised.

“Food safety non-compliances have not been detected, but certain differences in the quality of some products have been identified,” it says, and industry experts have told FoodNavigator in the past  that the issue is “ethically problematic but not illegal”.

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...