This verdict came to light after SZPI conducted meat inspections across a selection of the country’s retailers.
In particular, the inspections revealed that 110-gram meat cans under the brand Werblinski of Poland actually contained a 47% meat content, whereas the label declared it to be 59%. A similar problem was detected with meat cannery Pikok Chalupářské vepřové maso where meat was found to make up a 77% share of the product, compared to a declaration of 89% on the label.
Another canned meat brand, BEST-Šunková delikatesa, was found to contain pork, despite the label claiming it only contained chicken and turkey. German supplier Dreistern-Konserven GmbH & Co also delivered canned meat with a declared 80% share of beef, while the actual share was 52.3%.
Meanwhile, in the Albert retail chain a 500g chicken fillet containing moisture above the level declared on the label was discovered.
According to Pavel Kopřiva, head of SZPI, about 90% of Czech consumers were disappointed with the fact that food in the domestic market was of poor quality, compared to similar products in other Western European countries, despite the fact that, often, this appeared to be the same products in the same packaging and with the same labels.
“Czech consumers have food in the domestic market that is made from less valuable raw materials, compared to the products that go to the other 15 countries of Western Europe,” said SZPI’s press-service, citing Kopřiva.
“This is mostly an ethical problem due to the [product] composition described on the label. However, if the composition of products is not stated appropriately on the label, that also becomes a legal problem, as it is essentially consumer fraud,” suggested Kopřiva.
Food safety fears
Several consumer organisations have already called on the country’s Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka to take action at a European level to deal with the problems of “unashamed manipulation in the standards of food production”. Public opinion surveys have revealed that 36% of consumers are concerned that food – and in particular meat – in the Czech Republic has a lower quality than in the rest of Western Europe.
This is not the first time that SZPI has raised concerns over the quality of imported meat products as, in mid-May, inspections found pork by-products infected with salmonella in one of the largest country’s retail chains, Lidl. The manufacturer of these products was reportedly Poland-based Hamburger Pini Sp.
According to Kopřiva, recent incidents have forced SZPI to take a closer look at the problem, as it has turned out to be more extensive than previously believed. SZPI has also threatened huge fines for retail chains where faked or low-quality products are found, adding that, in the case of repeat violations, those fines could increase to several million euros