Bulgaria’s consumer watchdog says differences in food with rest of EU ‘minimal’
Scientific comparative analysis of food and beverages of the same brands sold in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the European Union has established only a few minimal differences, the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) said on February 12.
The study was done following claims of significant differences – double standards – in the same brands of food and drink sold in Bulgarian and elsewhere in the EU.
“The first most important conclusion is that in terms of food and beverage safety there is no doubt that what is sold on the Bulgarian market, as in the rest of the European Union, is safe according to the standards introduced,” CPC head Dimitar Margaritov told a news conference.
“Second, just as importantly, we see that the concept of ‘double standard’ suddenly takes on a slightly different colour, if we can even speak of one. At the very least, it is clear that there is no such thing in the East-West axis,” he said.
The report covered a comparative analysis of tests on foods and beverages sold in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Spain.
Eleven products were tested in the EU-funded analysis. Two – canned peas and corn – showed significant differences.
Four – butter, chocolate, chocolate candy, tuna – had “minimal and irrelevant” differences in quality.
There were no statistically demonstrable differences in five products – olive oil, spaghetti and three types of alcohol.
Project manager Konstantin Raykov, a member of the CPC, emphasised that a scientific and professional approach was applied in the implementation of the project and the testing of the samples.
He said that a working group of representatives of the CPC and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, the Ministry of Economy and scientific institutions had been created.
“We were able to obtain objective and real results from this analysis,” said Konstantin Arabadzhiev, a member of the CPC.
Sampling testing was carried out in accredited laboratories using a methodology developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Directorate-General in close co-operation with the competent authorities of EU member states, consumer organizations and other stakeholders in the food supply chain and the relevant Commission services, the CPC said.
Margaritov said that a definition of “significant difference” should be introduced into the legislation.
“And where such is the case, it should be categorically recognised as unfair commercial practice and sanctioned by someone doing it.”
The CPC said that the reported discrepancies between food and beverages sold in Bulgaria and in Western European countries are minimal.
“There is no definite conclusion as to whether they change the quality of the respective trademarks in a positive or negative direction. Typically, these differences are properly labeled and do not mislead consumers.”
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