The presence of so-called dual quality food in European stores was confirmed this week, when the results of a European Commission study showed that the labelling on 31 percent of analysed products was either fully or partly misleading. What is more, it seems dual quality is not just a problem in Central and Eastern Europe, but across the whole union.
The Czech government is poised to amend the Food and Consumer Protection acts so as to ban the practice of “dual quality” sales of food and other products. If signed into law, retailers would be banned from selling inferior quality products that appear to be the same as superior ones sold elsewhere in the EU.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with representatives of Nestlé, Unilever
and other multi-national food retailers to discuss the issue of dual food
quality on Thursday morning. According to the Czech News Agency, there is
information that these retailers make it impossible for Czech traders to
purchase better-quality food made for West European markets. Speaking after
the meeting, Mr. Babiš said that this allegation was dismissed by the
retailers, who stated that differences in their product composition were a
consequence of the specific tastes customers have in each country.
The issue of dual-quality revolves around allegations that food companies are supplying lower quality versions of the same product for markets located in Central and Eastern Europe, as opposed to Western markets.
The Czech Ministry of Agriculture wants to introduce fines of up to CZK 50
million for companies that distribute food products in this country that
are of poorer quality than in other EU markets. The minister of
agriculture, Miroslav Toman, said on Monday that products sold in the Czech
Republic in similar wrappings had to have the same ingredients and
Mr. Toman said a new law imposing hefty fines for dual quality could be in place in 12 months. In the past tests have indicated that some products sold in the Czech Republic were inferior to those marketed in states such as Germany and Austria under the same brands.
The Czech Republic, which was poised to scrap the strict control measures
imposed on Polish meat imports on Monday, is still waiting for written
guarantees from Poland pertaining to its own control measures which would
guarantee safe imports in the future.
Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman, who discussed the issue with his Polish counterpart and the EU commissioner for agriculture last week said the agreed on measures were adequate and controls would cease as soon as the Czech Republic received assurances that they had been implemented.
According to Petr Majer from the State Veterinary Authority if the written guarantees arrive on Tuesday the controls could be called off on Wednesday.
The strict control measures were introduced shortly after Czech veterinary authorities confirmed salmonella- infected meat in beef and poultry imports from Poland.
Four people from Opava contracted brucellosis, a disease that was
eradicated from Czech territory six decades ago, the head of the infections
department at a hospital in the city told reporters on Tuesday. The four
caught the highly contagious illness last summer after consuming
unpasteurised milk while on holiday in Armenia.
Working with veterinarians, doctors in Opava identified the rarely seen disease after two of the victims sought treatment toward the end of last year.