Donnerstag, 16.08.2018 14:39 Uhr

Consumer product quality

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 17.07.2018, 08:39 Uhr
Kommentar: +++ Special interest +++ Bericht 5055x gelesen

Rome [ENA] With the expanding of trade due to globalization, measures against the dishonest commercial practice of selling lower quality products in some EU countries need to be more and more implemented. Studies have shown that food and other products advertised in some central and eastern EU countries, although safe, can be of a lower quality than the same products in the same packaging in Western Europe.

This varies from less meat in meat products, to less cocoa in chocolate, no oranges in orange juice and syrup or artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Other tests have been performed for sodas, meat, fish or dairy products, teas and confectionery. Fish sticks, for example, contained less fish in Slovakia than in Austria (58% vs 65%). While the ingredients were usually labelled correctly and the products were considered safe for consumption, some of those in the so called 'new' Member States were considered to be of inferior quality and less healthy, and were also more expensive. Similar claims have previously been made concerning cosmetics and laundry detergents.

Companies are known to change the composition of their branded products to adjust to local taste, local ingredients, divergent purchasing power, etc. European Union legislation does not consider this to be misleading, as long as the products are safe, properly labelled and not falsely advertised as being identical to those sold in another Member State. Adjusting products to local tastes, preferences and prices is standard practice and can also be legal. The difference in taste might also stem from using local ingredients in local factories or cheaper ones to adapt to local purchase power. But in the case studied, the prices were the same or higher with no mentions on the package, which was misleading.

This practice is definitely insulting to consumers. At the same time, trademark law, while protecting the right of the trademark owner to publicize the origin and quality of products by using a mark, does not offer the consumer a legally enforceable guarantee. National consumer organizations have to cooperate ever more to tackle this important issue. On the other side, manufacturers could add a logo to packaging showing that the content and quality of a brand is the same in all EU countries. Actually, the present legal framework is not enough, otherwise we would not have this problem.

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