Earlier this year, it was revealed that the European Union’s New Consumer Agreement, designed to protect consumers, was missing a long-debated clause regarding dual-quality food products between its member states.
It’s long been a hot topic: food producers often use different ingredients in different countries (under the guise of adapting to the local market), and while labels reveal what’s in the goods, branding and marketing remains identical. Consumers who travel between different markets are potentially misled.
Tests conducted within Czech media have revealed that the same products sold under the same brands in Germany and Austria are often of superior quality to those sold in the Czech Republic, typically meaning higher meat percentages or more natural ingredients.
And when the Austrian-chaired EU Council failed to address the dual-quality food issue in their new Agreement, Czech policymakers weren’t happy.
Now, they’re trying to do something about it.
According to Česká televize, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture is pushing for measures to prevent dual-quality food products from being sold within the Czech Republic under a new proposal presented yesterday.
Under the new proposal, an amendment to the Czech Republic’s Food Act would make it clear that foodstuffs that contain different ingredient in other EU member states cannot be labelled and marketed the same in the Czech Republic.
The Ministry threatens potential fines of up to 50 million crowns for violations.
“The goal of our proposal is that foods that are different in their properties are not presented to consumers with the same packaging, labeling, color, graphics, or the same marketing,” said Agriculture Minister Daniel Toman.
“We need to work together to end this unfair practice and punish the fraudsters,” remarked Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Protection and Equal Opportunities,
Opponents to the Ministry’s new proposal claim that it will not end the practice of dual-quality food between the Czech Republic and other EU states, and only encourage manufacturers to more clearly label their dual-quality products.