Czech test finds inconsistent levels of product quality in different states

A test of 21 products sold in different European states conducted by scientists in Prague has found that despite all having similar packaging only three had the same composition. The research comes against a backdrop of widespread perceptions that multinational companies deliver inferior products, in particular foods, to consumers in the former Eastern Bloc.

Photo: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.netPhoto: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Prague’s University of Chemistry and Technology carried out a test of 21 mainly food products sold in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The study was commissioned by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture at a cost of CZK 500,000 and the results were made public on Tuesday.

Despite the 21 products coming in very similar packaging, only three of them had the same composition. Five were judged to be only slightly different but the remaining 13 were deemed completely different.

Jana Pivoňka of the University of Chemistry and Technology said the test did not prove that higher quality products were sold in particular states in general terms.

But, Mr. Pivoňka said, there is evidence that producers are favouring consumers in Germany and Austria with regard to the composition of certain products.

For instance, Iglo (known as Birdseye in the UK) brand fish fingers were found to contain 50.2 percent fish in the Czech Republic compared to 63.8 percent in Germany.

Tulip Luncheon Meat sold in Germany includes pork but the Czech equivalent features the waste products of chicken processing.

The test also looked at other products. It discovered, for instance, that Persil washing powder contained 9.5 grams of cleaning agent per dose in the three former Eastern Bloc states, considerably less than the 11.3 grams found in Germany and Austria.

Marian Jurečka, photo: Filip JandourekMarian Jurečka, photo: Filip Jandourek At the presentation of the test results on Tuesday, the Czech minister of agriculture, Marian Jurečka, described them as unacceptable and discriminatory.

All European Union citizens have the right to the same level of quality, he told reporters.

Minister Jurečka – who held up Czech and German Iglo fish finger boxes to illustrate his point – said that the Czech Republic would advocate for the European Union to introduce legislation to deal with the matter.

Mr. Jurečka said, however, that even if the EU were to take action in this regard it would likely take at least four years before any change was seen. It took a full 10 years to bring about an end to roaming charges, he said.

Two years ago the Czech Food Chamber conducted a test of its own. It found that two-thirds of same brand products were cheaper in Germany than in the Czech Republic and were frequently of higher quality.