BELGIUM, Brussels. The accusation, made mainly by newer EU Member States, that there are qualitative differences in the food offered in the eastern and western EU countries is apparently unjustified.
As the Joint Research Centre of the EU Commission (JRC) states in its investigation report, irregularities between the contents and the packaging were identified in some cases, but a clear geographical pattern could not be identified. In addition, the differences in composition did not necessarily mean a difference in product quality, the EU Commission stressed.
Almost 1400 samples from 128 different food products in 19 EU countries were tested for the study. The study showed that 9% of the products compared differed in composition, even though the contents on the packaging were identical. A further 22% of the products with differences in composition had a comparable packaging front. In most cases, the composition corresponded to the product presentation. According to the JRC, both the front and the composition of 23% of the products were identical; in 27% of the products, the different composition depending on the EU country was also indicated by a different front side.
EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová made it clear, however, that her authority would take action against two different standards in the European internal market. The new regulations, which criminalise double standards of quality and strengthen consumer protection authorities, would provide the necessary instruments to remedy the situation.