EU moves to ban “dual food,” clamps down on inferior food sales

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16 Apr 2018 --- A European Union directive banning so-called “dual food” plans to tackle the issue of food products from known brands but of lower quality being sold in certain markets. And next month the European Commission will provide a methodology for testing multinational brands to help identify the real culprits when they try to pass off inferior goods.

This is part of the New Deal for Consumers which was discussed in Brussels last week and follows the Commission's guidelines from September 2017. The New Deal for Consumers will update the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in order to make explicit that national authorities can assess and address misleading commercial practices involving the marketing of products as being identical in several EU countries if their composition or characteristics are significantly different.

The Commission is moving to make it illegal for manufacturers to sell inferior versions of well-known brands to customers in certain Eastern European countries.

A recent report in The Guardian says that studies suggest hundreds of products were involved in the practice and there have been long-standing complaints from member states in central and eastern Europe.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has previously said the EU needs to clamp down on this practice.

“I will not accept that in some parts of Europe, people are sold food of lower quality than in other countries, despite the packaging and branding being identical,” he said. “We must now equip national authorities with stronger powers to cut out any illegal practices wherever they exist.”

Juncker’s comments are echoed by Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

“Presenting two different products in the same branded packaging is misleading and unfair to consumers. This issue is a clear example that we can solve cross-border problems only when working together on EU level,” she said.

“For too long member states alone couldn't find the right way to address this. I am determined to put an end to this practice, prohibited under EU law and make sure that all consumers are treated equally.”

Brussels also discussed how consumer organizations will also be given the right to launch collective action on behalf of consumers and fines could be increased to up to 4 percent of a company’s annual turnover if they have infringed the rights of customers.

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