EU issues common food quality testing methodology to fight ‘dual food quality’

EU common food quality testing methodology to fight ‘dual food quality’
European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska © Nikolay Doychinov (EU2018BG)

The European Commission has published a common food quality testing methodology which member states can use to prevent the ongoing problem of dual food quality.

Dual food quality is a phenomenon in which the same food products vary in quality between different member states, despite being produced by the same companies and marketed as the same products. The EU’s new common food quality testing methodology accompanies previous legislative efforts the bloc has made to combat the problem.

These additional efforts include attempts to strengthen and clarify consumer rights by prohibiting dual quality practices, and empowering authorities to take action on behalf of consumers to end the practice. The commission will also seek to strengthen the ability of member states’ consumer authorities to respond in certain situations.

What will the dual food quality methodology involve?

The methodology is based on a number of key principles which are also used to ensure that food products sold in the EU comply with the bloc’s strict safety regulations. These principles include:

  • Transparency;
  • Comparability;
  • Selection sampling; and
  • Testing of products.

As well as ensuring that food products are compliant, these principles also help consumers to stay informed and prevent misleading packaging. The preparation of an EU-level common food quality testing methodology was necessary, as individual member states are responsible for ensuring that food products comply with EU regulations.

Member states will now apply the methodology to a pan-European campaign, which will test and collect data on a wide variety of products in order to determine the scale of the dual quality problem. This project will aim to guide authorities in the preparation of further measures, and results are expected before the end of the year.

What has the EU said about dual food quality?

The European Commission welcomed the collaborative effort that went into the preparation of the new methodology, and highlighted contributions made by national authorities and the EU’s Joint Research Centre, which will ensure that the methodology is fair and effective.

European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska emphasised the impact that the process of addressing dual food quality could have on creating a fairer deal for European consumers: “All European consumers are entitled to a fair deal on the single market. The common methodology we developed together with member states, consumer organisations and stakeholders from the food supply chain will help shed an evidence-based light on the different compositions of identically branded food products across Europe.”

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