Double Standard in Food Products on Western and Eastern European Markets
Comparative analysis of the products made in the last month shows that there are differences between the food products sold on the Bulgarian and Western European market, the Deputy Director of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, Todorka Yankovska, told BNT on 28th of June. The most serious are the differences between dairy products and baby foods that are of different content but are sold under the same brand in Bulgaria and Germany. There are serious differences in the content of chocolate bars. However, differneces are not found in meat products. The Agency reminds that the dfeerences of ingredients does not make the products dangerous for our health, and the differences are described in the labels.
Within a month, the experts compared several product groups - from the Western European market and the Bulgarian market: chocolate, meat and dairy products, fizzy drinks, juices and baby foods. The results show that of the 31 tested products, there is a difference in 7 as regards the declared content.
These 7 products are from the group of fizzy drinks and fruit juices, baby foods, dairy products, margarine and chocolate desserts, Prof. Yankovska said.
The analysis on cheese, which is one of the Bulgarians' favourite foods, shows that although from the same brand, the product has a different taste and appearance.
In energy drinks, there is a lower percentage of caffeine compared to the same brands in Germany.
In the case of natural fruit juices in Western Europe, juice is actually 100% natural, while on the Bulgarian market it is 97%.
Clearly, the differences do not have a negative impact on our health, she added.
The Food Agency has also identified food price differences of the same type and brand. This is expected to be commented by the Minister of Agriculture Rumen Porozhanov.
Bulgaria is about to notify the European Commission about the results of the study.
In connection with this, Dr. Kremena Stoeva, head of department at the Food Control Directorate of Bulgarian Agency for Food Safety, in an interview with FOCUS Radio "This is Bulgaria", commented the subject.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food published part of the results of the comparative analysis of food products from the same producers, marketed in Western Europe and in Bulgaria. What are the results? That is why we will talk with Dr. Kremena Stoeva, Head of Food Control Directorate of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency. Dr. Stoeva, how many products and from what categories were covered by the verification?
Bulgaria has conducted a research on whether there is a double standard or not, based on a test of 31 products, covering 5 main food groups, which are the most widespread among the population of the Republic of Bulgaria. These are chocolate products - 8 assortments; Alcoholic beverages and fruit juices; Baby food was presented with 2 assortments; Dairy products and margarine - 8; Local products - 6 assortments of the group.
Is it important to say what indicators are being compared in the research of these products and the services of which laboratories are used - ours or foreign ones?
The assessment was carried out in several stages by first comparing the food labels purchased from our market and their analogues from the markets of other European countries by purchasing products from the markets of Germany and Austria. Then an organoleptic analysis of the pairs of foods followed by a laboratory physico-chemical analysis. The agency has also allowed some additional studies that might indicate a possible substitution of ingredients or the unannounced use of any additional additives not stated on the label. Laboratory tests were done entirely in Bulgarian laboratories. All laboratories are accredited to the Bulgarian Accreditation Service.
What are the differences that have been identified?
Differences in food labeling were found in 7 products of the tested ones, with differences in dairy products being found, one of chocolate desserts, differences in labeling in the butter, differences in the labeling of some of the tested analogues. There are also differences in organoleptic analysis and physico-chemical analysis, as the differences found in the physicochemical analysis exist, but they are insignificant and almost all are within the tolerances allowed.
When we say that there is a difference between the labeling and the content of the product, does it mean that it contains more or less of a product that is described on the label?
That's right, yes. There are such analogues, which for the Bulgarian market are produced with one type of raw material, and for the foreign market with another kind of raw material. This is most commonly seen in the use of sugar and glucose-fructose syrup.
A study, which was done in Slovakia a few months ago, showed that dairy products sold in the country had fewer proteins, chocolate less cocoa, more fat and water in the meat. Is this trend also characteristic of the products you have checked?
I would not say that we are fully repeating the results of our colleagues from Slovakia. There are differences in our analysis results. For example, in cocoa I can not say that Bulgarian analogs are less cocoa, on the contrary. Some of the tested analogues have more cocoa for the ones offered on the Bulgarian market, unlike the market of the other member states.
How can our country react to this situation of established, proven differences?
What is going to be done by Bulgaria is to inform the Commissioner for Consumer Protection at the European Commission and to take part in all the actions that will be taken by the Visegrad Four and our supportive countries, Bulgaria also participates.
Your summary conclusion, Dr. Stoeva? Should Bulgarian consumers be bothered by a drastic difference of the products on the Bulgarian market with the quality that exists on the Western market?
From the analysis we made on these 31 products, we have not found a drastic discrepancy, but there are divergences and we can explicitly talk about an existing double standard between food, some of the foods that are available on our market and on other Member States' markets.
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