AgMin taking steps on food quality discrepancies
Branded food items are lower quality in the Czech Republic than other EU states
The food that people buy in the Czech Republic may be lower quality than what is available in western European countries. The Czech Agriculture Ministry in the first half of this year will be comparing food purchased in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to the same branded items in Germany and Austria.
The results will be brought before the European Union. The Czech Republic is pushing for an EU regulation that would require the same quality of food be sold in each EU country. Currently there are differences between branded food items with the same names in different countries.
The European Union has said it lacks enough data on the issue. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) said that the survey is a priority so the ministry can show that the problem is real.
Czech media has cited several discrepancies. Jacobs Krönung instant coffee has one-third more caffeine in Germany, likely due to cheaper beans used in the Czech version. The instant coffee, though, was cheaper in the Czech Republic.
Rama margarine has 10 percent more fat in Germany than in the Czech Republic. A representative of the brand told daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) that the difference was due to local preferences, as Czechs tend to use margarine cold on bread and in other countries people cook with it. The margarine was cheaper in Germany as well. Ristorante brand salami pizza had twice as much sausage in Germany, but the Czech pizza was slightly cheaper.
Tulip brand lunch meat is all pork in Germany, while its Czech counterpart is almost twice as expensive and has a large amount of processed poultry.
The Czech Republic on its own cannot pass laws requiring that food sold here is the same as in other EU countries. The matter has to be dealt with on the EU level. Czech MEP Olga Sehnalová (ČSSD) has been spearheading the issue in the European Parliament, and has support from Slovakia and Croatia. Sehnalová has been involved in the issue for six years. A survey two years ago showed 35 percent of branded products had differences in different countries. Coca-Cola and Tchibo Espresso were found to have different flavors in Slovakia compared to other countries. Sehnalová said the European Commission claims the previous surveys were not done on enough samples.
Sehnalová calls the new survey a good step, and adds the Czech government will have to be proactive if any progress will be made.
Vratislav Janda, director of corporate affairs for Nestlé Česko told Czech Radio that legislation for the “artificial unification of recipes” would not benefit the consumer, as differences in local tastes and traditions should be respected.
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