Based on the investigation of the Hungarian authorities, multinational food producers provide the shops of Western and Easter European regions with goods of altering quality, Magyaridők.hu reported.
According to the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, the issue has to be dealt with at EU level. Recently, the Slovakian agriculture portfolio has called attention to the fact that the products available in Slovakian shops are of lower quality than those of the Austrian ones in the case of the same brand. The Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture told Magyaridők.hu that a similar investigation was carried out in Hungary, too, and the results were the same.
Lately, the National Food Chain Safety Office compared 24 similar or same product samples based on the organoleptic characteristics, ingredients and the labeling of the products. Regarding the confectionery products, the chocolates of well-known brands are available in the same quality everywhere, however, for example, in the case of Manner, the condition of the Austrian wafer was preferable. The quality of the hazelnut cream in Nutella showed alternation, too: the Hungarian sample was less soft than the Austrian one. The bitter chocolate covering of the Hungarian Ritter Sport filled with marzipan – with the same amount of sugar and fat – did not melt as easily as the Austrian one, Magyaridők.hu writes.
As for the beverages, there was a huge alternation in quality in case of Coca Cola. The smell of the Hungarian one is not as complex as that of the Austrian one. Regarding its sugar content, the Hungarian one was 0,6% higher, and was made with corn-based sweeteners. In addition, it is more expensive than the Austrian one. In the case of the Hungarian Nesquick, it has a poorer cocoa taste, and the sweet flavour dominates. The Hungarian custard is thinner, while the Austrian one tasted creamier.
According to Magyaridők.hu, the biggest difference was observed among Knorr dry soups. In case of beef broth, the Hungarian customer would find 48 grams of powder, whereas the Austrian would have 60 grams. Three portions can be prepared from both products; however, the Austrian customers have 2% more pasta, almost twice as much meatball, and 3% more carrot in the package than the Hungarians. The Hungarian Knorr Fix Cabonara spaghetti does not contain any cheese, while the Austrian product contains three types of it, at least.
Gabriela Matecná Slovakian minister for agriculture stated that, based on the results of the investigation, they were going to bring the matter to the European Commission. According to the Hungarian Ministry for Agriculture, with the cooperation of the affected member states, the problem could be dealt with at EU level.
The minister added that the legal environment is not favourable. Developing stronger costumer awareness would be a potential solution for this problem. Customers have to pay attention to the activities of the firms, and the cooperation between them and the consumer product-safety authorities has to be strengthen.
The Government will have to deal – as a particular priority, from the angles of consumer protection and food safety – with the fact that multinational food manufacturers sell products of inferior quality in Hungary, compared to the products they sell in Western-Europe, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday.
Mr Lázár told the press that he was shocked to read the report of the National Food Chain Safety Office on the comparison of 24 product samples concluding that the very same companies sell the very same products of higher quality to the Austrians. This confirms the assumption that these multinational companies are trying to sell „food industry rubbish” in Hungary, he said.
We are on the verge of the greatest scandal of the period to come, which will equally raise issues of food safety, quality and trade policy, he stressed, asking the question: why cannot a Hungarian have access to the same products the Austrians can have access to?
According to the Minister, it will be necessary to implement the package of consumer protection measures in the context of retail which has twice before been removed from the Government’s agenda as retail supermarket chains – given that they are major employers – have a strong capacity for enforcing their interests. The purpose of the re-regulation of retail is to protect the interests of the consumers, within the framework of food safety, or the general rules of consumer protection, he detailed.
Mr Lázár said that Hungary, together with the Visegrád countries, has already filed in a complaint to the European Commission, and they hope that the body will institute proceedings against the firms that favour Western-European consumers and discriminate against Central-European consumers.
Copy editor: bm