Foodstuff in the EU will have to be the same

The European Commission has introduced rules to tackle the criticised dual quality of products in its member states. But is it really a pressing topic?

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo(Source: SME)

Slovakia can record a victory in the fight for the same-quality food sold under the same brand and in the same packaging. The problem occurs in about one-third of the European Union’s member states, particularly the eastern ones, according to the Slovak authorities.

The recent European Commission’s proposal, among other things, prohibits dual quality practices and introduces stronger penalties. The legislative change is only one step that needs to be taken, though.

“The problem with dual quality isn’t caused just by one issue,” Petra Čakovská of the consumer protection association Spoločnosť Ochrany Spotrebiteľov S.O.S. Poprad told The Slovak Spectator.

Apart from enforcing the new rules, which is in the power of national institutions, it will be necessary to continue in collecting data and evidence. This process will be simplified after introducing the unified testing methodology, she added. The methodology, prepared by the Joint Research Centre, is set to be presented next month.

Čakovská stressed that it is also necessary to start testing products other than foodstuffs, for example detergents.

Read also:Dual-quality food should be added to list of unfair business practices

Higher fines introduced

Entitled a New Deal for Consumers, the EC wants to empower qualified entities to launch representative actions on behalf of consumers and introduce stronger penalising powers for consumer authorities in individual member states. Moreover, it plans to extend the protection of consumers when they are online.

As for dual quality, the New Deal should update the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in order to “make explicit that national authorities can assess and address misleading commercial practices involving the marketing of products as being identical in several EU countries, if their composition or characteristics are significantly different”.

Read more: What will change under the proposal? What are the responses of Slovak MEPs? Is the topic really the most urgent problem in member states?

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