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EU to Ban Dual-Quality Food

Commission bows to pressure from the east to end the practice, which food giants say simply reflects different consumer preferences.

12 April 2018

Dual-quality foods will be prohibited from sale in the European Union, the European Commission announced yesterday.

 

The decision follows several years of complaints from consumers and governments in Central and Eastern Europe about allegations that food products sold there contained lower quality ingredients than identically labeled products sold in Western Europe.

 

“We have amended the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive to make it black and white that dual food quality is forbidden,” said Vera Jourava, the EU justice commissioner whose portfolio includes consumer affairs, EurActiv reports.

 

It remains unclear how the new rules will be enforced. New testing methodology will be introduced starting next month, Jourava said, initially for food products with other products possibly to be included in the future. The new testing methods will be trialed in the second half of this year.

 

Multinational food makers Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Ferrero Rocher, and HiPP, detergent maker Persil, and supermarkets such as Lidl and Spar, have been accused of selling lower quality products in eastern countries, European Scientist writes. The companies have dismissed the claims, with some saying their products varied in accordance with local preferences.

 

Jourava, the Czech member of the European Commission, said industry groups and Western EU members pushed back against calls to end dual-quality foods.

 

The industry is nervous. … There is some misunderstanding between some parts of Europe that the problem is not that serious. Colleagues in trade and industry had legitimate concerns that we must not open the Pandora’s Box but I think we have come forward with a proportionate solution,” the Guardian quotes her as saying. 

 

The proposal can now be debated in the EU Council before it is sent to the European Parliament for approval, Radio Praha reports.

 

 

  • Czech European Parliament deputy Olga Sehnalova exposed dual-quality foods in 2015 when she presented a Czech university study that found different ingredients in identically-labeled food products in the east and west of the bloc, Reuters reports.

 

  • Researchers found that Czech versions of products were often inferior to those sold in Germany. Consumer advocates said suppliers were still foisting lower-quality foods on Central European consumers more than a decade after they became EU citizens.

 

  • Current EU food legislation forces producers to list all ingredients but does not require that identically-labeled products use identical recipes, Politico wrote in 2016.

Compiled by Melissa Castano

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