In February, Czech Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka announced that he would be teaming up with policymakers in Slovakia and Hungary to petition the EU to ban sales of inferior food in Central and Eastern Europe.
Jurečka ordered a food-quality comparison study of select products sold in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, and Hungary. The results are in — and Jurečka’s assessment that V4 countries are “Europe’s garbage can” holds up.
Same products, different quality
A total of 21 products sold in different countries under the same brand were tested. Tests revealed that 13 were different, 5 were slightly different, and 3 were the same. In addition, all samples tested had 5 different product volumes in same-sized packages.
Jurečka, speaking at a press conference in Prague yesterday: “I consider this unacceptable and discriminatory towards consumers. We now have in hand more clear and verifiable evidence.”
The study concluded, for instance, that Tulip lunch meat from Germany includes pork, while the version sold on the Czech market is poultry. German Iglo fish fingers have 50 percent more meat than Czech ones. Persil detergent in Germany and Austria contains almost 20 more active ingredients than Czech, Hungarian, and Slovak versions.
“Customers, anywhere in the European Union, often choose the brand they already know and trust. In my opinion, we have the right to believe that in the same packaging, from the same manufacturer will be found the same food,” said Jurečka.
Shopping in Germany and Austria
A recent BBC article profiled Czech families who regularly cross the border for improved quality, less expensive food. Where do expat families go to stock up on cheaper, better food?
One reader suggests Elbe Parks Mall in Dresden where stores like Kaufland and Rossmann tend to offer better deals.
“Frosch cleaners for instance, when on sale are up to 70% less than we pay here and the container is larger. Rossmann shower gel when on sale in Germany is €,45 and here 25kc or more. We also buy tuna, smoked salmon, butter, fresh milk, Italian pasta, candy, oragnic grains and seeds, and almond milk.”
Other consumers we spoke with prefer Aldi in Dresden or Edeka in Weiden. The Czech website Drážďany Info lists sales on clothes and groceries in Dresden, while the travel agency Primark Lovers arranges Dresden shopping tours.
Companies have said they cater to local tastes by using various recipes. The practice is legal in the EU as long as ingredients are declared.