With new evidence, Czechs call for solution to dual food quality issue

The legendary Italian dessert spread. Germans taste one thing, Czechs, another, according to researchers. [Hikari Kaiko/Flickr]

Fish fingers in Germany contain more meat than those sold in the Czech Republic. The Visegrád Group has asked for an EU solution but the Commission is reluctant. Czechs are raising the issue again, following the publication of a new study. EURACTIV.cz reports.

The Czech Agriculture Ministry has a new tool for creating a pressure on the European Commission to solve the dual-quality food problem.

For the first time, it has conducted a study to show that the food in various countries has different quality despite the same package and the same brand. From 21 selected products bought in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Germany, only three were completely equal.

It does not mean, however, that the food sold in the Czech Republic must necessarily be “worse”.

“The aim of the research was not to show that there are more or less quality products in some countries. Criteria of quality is very subjective,” said Jan Pivoňka, from the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, who carried out the research.

According to the results, Nutella bought in Czech stores has a lighter colour than the German one and Lays chips sold in Czech markets contain palm oil while in Germany they do not.

The most notable difference was found in meat products. For example, Tulip Luncheon meat from Germany is made from pork but the Czech version is from poultry.

Slovak study fuels concerns about lower quality food in Eastern Europe

A new study carried out by the Slovak government has found significant quality differences in the same products sold in Slovakia and Austria.

The Commission is reluctant

“It is discriminatory towards consumers. We’ve already discussed it at the V4 meeting, in the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and now we have another evidence,” said Czech Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka.

He believes that results of the research will help him to push the European Commission into the action. As EURACTIV.com reported, Commissioners agreed to look into the matter. However, until now, no proposal has been issued.

“Reluctance of the Commission is unacceptable. Member states should continue their pressure,” said Czech CSSD MEP Olga Sehnalová (S&D) who conducted a similar study of dual food quality in 2012 and 2015.

Even retail chains are calling for an EU-wide solution. “Current European regulations and directives adjust food safety but the content of the food is regulated on different levels,” explained the spokesperson of Kaufland Czech Republic, Renata Maierlová.

She also mentioned that the content of dairy and meat products is a subject of the national legislation and the composition is mainly up to the producers.

The V4 call for action hasn’t brought about any solution yet and that’s why the Hungarians decided to come up with their own. The problem of dual quality may be solved by new legislation that could oblige producers and distributors to mark the food sold in Hungary with different content than in foreign countries despite the same name and package.

Eastern food is not always worse

Czech magazine dTest focused on comparing the quality of products and tested German, Austria and Czech food year ago. Unlike the Agriculture Ministry, it checked not only the contents of food but also its taste.

“German sausage contained more meat and less fat but evaluators preferred the Czech version because of its juiciness,” said chief-editor of dTest Hanna Hoffmannová. The same can be said about the Austrian ham, Hoffmannová added.

What’s more, some of the products in Czech stores were of higher quality then the German or Austrian ones. For example, Czech mayonnaise contained more fat and yolks and it also tasted better, dTest reported.

Lower quality of same food brands in Eastern Europe raises eyebrows

Big companies are selling better food in Austria than they sell in Hungary, even though the brands are supposed to be the same, the Hungarian government said yesterday (16 February).