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Several East-European countries have called on the EU to address the "double standards" used by food companies in selling different products under identical labels in the bloc's eastern and western regions. These countries include Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia:

Hungary and Slovakia will ask the European Commission in a joint motion to consider legal means to eliminate "double standards in quality" of food products sold by companies in Eastern Europe and in the west, Hungary's agriculture ministry said [..]

As far as I know, food industry is highly regulated in most if not all EU countries (clear list of ingredients, explicit list of food additives, calories per 100g/serving etc.).

Question: Why did this issue escalate to EU Commission level? Isn't food legislation supposed to deal with this kind of issues?

  • 2
    I once had a deodorant Fa bottle made in Germany by Schwartzkopf and Henkel, its smell was superb (never felt anything better). Then I bought the same Fa in Russia, its smell was awful and even the form of the bottle and plastic was cheaper (interestingly, the German one had the cap of the form of Nazi German uniform peaked cap while Russian had it just round) – Anixx Aug 3 '17 at 11:07
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Questions of uniformity of standards across the EU is an EU competence. It seems here the question is whether two similar but different products can be sold with the same packaging; it is implied that lower quality products are being sold in the East than in the West. For example, Can a meat pie maker sell pies in Poland and France, apparently with the same packaging, but using cheaper meat for the pies to be sold in Poland than for the pies to be sold in France. This wouldn't show on the ingredients list, which would only show "meat".

As this is a question of uniformity of standards, it is a matter that the Commission can consider. National food legislation must be consistent with EU law.

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Because it is a political question? As I understand the news reports, some companies use different recipes under the same brand label in Eastern and Western Europe. Both recipes would have been legal in either place.

Now it could be that they're honestly trying to cater to national preferences. Where I come from a proper meatball also contains onions, breadcrumbs, and egg. Other people might consider the breadcrumbs inferior to real meat, but for me it is how Mum always did it.

Or they are doing it not because those East European consumers like the different recipes better, but because they're not knowing what they're missing and get fobbed off with inferior products. If that happens regularly, and if it is legal, then it might be time to change the law.

As the saying goes, "there should be a law against it."

  • It might be considered deceptive advertising if an Europe-wide or global brand contains different things in different markets.
  • It might be a violation of free trade rules if wholesalers cannot mix-and-match shipments. Do the producers actively prevent "Eastern" products from being sold in the rest of the EU?
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  • At least for some products,I believe, it is amount of particular ingredient that is controlled in each country according to law. For example, Western country might say that a jam has to have at least 70% of strawberries to be called a jam, while Eastern European one might have it at let's say 40%. – Gnudiff Jun 15 '19 at 19:33
  • @Gnudiff, I thought EU regulations put an end to that kind of non-tariff trade impediment within the common market. – o.m. Jun 16 '19 at 4:36
  • not sure, I think I read something about it still going on last year. – Gnudiff Jun 16 '19 at 6:23

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