Dual food quality: Commission releases study on sensory differences in food products

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission published the results of the second part of an EU-wide quality comparison of food products marketed under the same branding, a study conducted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The first part of the study, published in 2019, focused on differences in composition of food products. It found differences – for about one-third of products tested – not immediately apparent from the front-of-pack information, but from the ingredients. The aim of the second part of the study, presented today, was to find out if these compositional differences can be perceived by human senses.

Today’s findings did not alter what the first part of the study found: differences in food products did not follow a geographical pattern. At the same time, the results presented today demonstrate that sensory differences are clearly noticeable, where there are large differences in product composition. For example, significant differences in sugar content in breakfast cereals can be perceived influencing the overall sweetness of the product. By contrast, when compositional differences were small, experts could not perceive them, for example, smaller variations in fat content in potato crisps. Overall, sensory differences were found in 10 out of the 20 products tested.

The study was conducted as a pilot project, testing 20 products that had shown compositional differences in the first part of the study. Samples of each product were purchased in 5-10 different Member States. As the testers were specifically trained for such tests, it is likely that the average consumer may not necessarily sense the same differences. Whether or not differences could be detected by the experts, depended not only on whether the compositional differences were large or small but also on the kinds of ingredients used: a difference between various synthetic sweeteners in orangeade could be detected, whereas different natural sweeteners in carbonated soft drinks were not. At the same time, it should be noted that consumers do not base their decision to buy a product exclusively on the sensory experience but may also be influenced by other elements, such as costs.

Members of the College said:

Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Transparency and Values welcomed the report: “As promised, we keep close attention on the issue of dual quality. There can be no unjustified differentiation of products in the EU. This is why we strengthened our consumer laws and empowered consumers in this regard. These laws must be vigorously enforced, also on this issue, and the Commission stands ready to support the authorities, if needed.“

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture and Youth said: “This   second part of the study provides further evidence on the scale of the dual quality issue and supports consumer authorities and consumer organisations in tackling it effectively.”

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice added: “Consumers need to know what they are buying. They must not be misled by the same or a similar front-of-pack implying that goods are the same when they are not. This is unfair and contrary to EU consumer law. I call on the Member States to ensure a rapid transposition of the updated Unfair Commercial Practices Directive into national law. The Commission will continue to assist Member States and offer support to consumer authorities.”

Commission action to address the issue of dual product quality:

This study is part of a nearly EUR 5 million investment from the EU budget to increase knowledge on dual quality issues and to support capacity-building activities for consumer authorities and associations across the Union (see here for more information).

Next steps

Further studies are expected from the Joint Research Centre in 2021 and 2022, examining the evolution of products in the first comparative tests of 2019.

The Commission continues to assist Member States in their efforts to transpose and implement the updated Unfair Commercial Practices Directive into national law, notably in the form of transposition workshops.

Finally, in 2021, new grants for a total amount of EUR 1 million to support consumer authorities’ capacities, including for product testing, will become available once the multi-annual financial framework is operational.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ford trumpets new in-vehicle system, “fundamentally rethinks” transportation

Brexit Adjustment Reserve: MEPs want swift disbursement of €5 billion fund

MEPs call for decisive action to fight inequalities in the EU

The challenges of the vaccination campaign in Brazil, including the state of Amazonas

What can the private sector do to alleviate the refugee crisis?

Sustainable fishing staying afloat in developed world, sinking in poorer regions

Ending HIV: The contribution of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Youth unemployment: No light at the end of the tunnel

These are the world’s least – and most – corrupt countries

Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

How fintech is setting Southeast Asia’s SMEs free

Cleantech innovation is being stifled. Here’s how to unlock it

Mergers: Commission waives the commitments made by Takeda to obtain clearance of its acquisition of Shire

How is COVID-19 affecting claims handling for hurricane damage?

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Deal reached on EU fund to help regions and businesses adapt to Brexit

EU budget: Commission proposes to increase funding to support the environment and climate action

5 ways students can graduate fully qualified for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

What the pandemic has taught us about science communication

Berlin favours economic and social disintegration in certain Eurozone countries

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

Microsoft’s YouthSpark: a kiss of Life to European Youth from the European Parliament

Gender equality: Breaking the glass ceiling

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

Political power of women suffering ‘serious regression’, General Assembly President warns

Increased levels of carbon dioxide could reduce brainpower, study finds

This AI-powered app aims to help people with autism improve their social skills

Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

Teamgum @ TheNextWeb 2014

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

The EU parliamentary elections, explained

Syrian civilians must be protected amid ISIL executions and airstrikes: Bachelet

Africa’s Sahel must be a top priority for UN peacebuilding efforts, says commission

Hostages to a rampant banking system

This is the ever-changing state of the world’s top cities

DR Congo: ‘No time to lose’ says newly appointed UN Ebola response coordinator

Why a multi-stakeholder approach is essential to our risk resiliency

Global economy faces gravest threat since the crisis as coronavirus spreads

Voice tech and the question of trust

Nuclear test ban treaty critical to global collective security – UN chief

The right approach to addressing overcapacity problem from a Chinese perspective

Brexit: Ensuring a smooth transition for car producers and safety on the roads

Villages ‘reduced to ash’ amid ‘barbaric violence’ in DR Congo, reports UN refugee agency

High-flyers: China is on top of the world for skyscraper construction

GSMA Reveals Virtual Event Details Welcoming a New Era of Connected Impact at MWC Barcelona

Cities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. These organizations are leading the urban response.

Questions and answers: Commission proposes SURE, a new temporary instrument worth up to €100 billion to help protect jobs and people in work

How climate change exacerbates the refugee crisis – and what can be done about it

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Over 330,000 Congolese migrants at risk after mass deportations from Angola – UN rights chief

Trump blocks US warmongers from bombing Iran

Ozone on track to heal completely in our lifetime, UN environment agency declares on World Day.

Deaf advocate voices importance of sign languages as UN marks first commemoration

Eurozone: Black economy loves the South

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Why this city is paying people to move there

Checks, fines, crisis reserve: MEPs vote on EU farm policy reform

25 years on from landmark conference, millions of women and girls still in danger: UN deputy chief

Electric taxis and urban fleets can speed decarbonisation – Here’s how

European Confederation of Junior Enterprises hosts in Geneva the Junior Enterprise World Conference

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s