Dual food quality: tests find products differ between Member States

dual food quality
© iStock/Ivan Bajic

A food testing campaign conducted by the European Commission has found a number of identically branded foods differ in composition and quality between Member States.

The Joint Research Centre, the Commission’s science and research body, conducted tests on just under 1,400 food products from 19 Member States. 23% of the products tested had identical packaging and identical composition, while a further 27% of products with differing composition between Member States indicated as much on their packaging. However 9% of the food products analysed, though they were presented as being identical across the EU, differed in composition; and 22% had different compositions despite very similar packaging. There appeared to be no consistent geographical pattern in the instances of dual food quality and composition.

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “Some Europeans feel branded food products they buy are different, perhaps worse, compared to those available elsewhere. The Commission called on our scientists to help objectively assess the extent of such differences on the single market. The results are mixed: while I am happy that they found no evidence of an East-West divide in the composition of branded food products, I am worried that they uncovered up to one third of tested products having different compositions while being identically or similarly branded.”

National competent authorities will now analyse the Joint Research Centre’s results in order to determine on a case by case basis whether any of the instances of dual food quality have breached the EU’s consumer regulations.

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “There will be no double standards in Europe’s single market. With the new laws penalising the dual quality and strengthening the hands of the consumer authorities, we have the tools at hand to put an end to this practice. European consumers will be able to do their shopping in full trust that they buy what they see.”

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