Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!
Food advocates say the food industry discriminates against the region by using lower-quality ingredients and more chemicals.17 February 2017
Manner wafers in Hungary are less crunchy than those offered to Austrian consumers, the Hungarian food safety authority announced yesterday.
Earlier this week Slovakia’s Agriculture Ministry said an orange drink sold in the country by the German Rewe Group contained no actual orange juice, unlike the Austrian version, and had more chemicals.
The reports, including a Czech study last year, are reviving an old dispute pitting Central European countries against big food producers and the European Commission.
In the new Hungarian study, the food watchdog said makers of 24 food products were selling inferior goods in Hungary with the same labels as better-quality products found in Austrian supermarkets, EurActiv reports.
Hungarian Nutella, for example, was less mellow than in Austria.
Slovakia, supported by the Czech Republic, tried to highlight the issue of “dual-quality foods” last year during its presidency of the EU, Politico reported.
Researchers have found that the Czech versions of identical-looking products are often inferior to those sold in Germany. Consumer advocates argue suppliers are still foisting lower-quality foods on Central European consumers more than a decade after they became EU citizens.
“We’re not [saying] companies cannot adjust their products to consumer demands,” said a Czech member of the European Parliament, Olga Sehnalova. “We are talking about different quality when it comes to the composition of basic ingredients. I think that this is unacceptable.”
The food industry says the differences reflect the variety of national tastes, Politico wrote.
The European Commission’s stance was that consumers are fully informed as to the ingredients in food products thanks to labeling rules.
“As long as products comply with EU legal requirements and do not mislead consumers as to their main characteristics, no legislation prevents companies from differentiating products according to markets, in line with the taste, preferences or purchasing power of consumers,” the official said.
Commenting on the Slovak comparison study, Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna said Tuesday, "The argument that consumers in different regions prefer different tastes won't stand, because Slovak consumers definitely don't prefer artificial sweeteners and additives or lower content of meat compared to Austrian products," Reuters reports.
The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.
This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes.
It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.