VILNIUS, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) plans to finish an investigation on food quality differences in Eastern and Western European countries by the end of this year, the European Commission's director-general for justice and consumers, Tiina Astola, said on Friday.
Around 20 EU member states joined the investigation, she said.
"Currently, the countries are in a phase of selecting the products needed for the investigation as we need products which are being sold in most of the participating countries," the EU official was quoted as saying by local media.
Notable differences in the quality of ingredients in identical products that multinational food companies sell in Eastern Europe compared to the countries of Western Europe topped the EU's agenda last year after local tests were carried out in several Eastern and Central European countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
The State Food and Veterinary Service of Lithuania carried out a similar research last year which showed a difference in the taste, ingredients, color or consistency of products sold in Lithuania, compared to Germany.
According to Astola, the problem is the labeling of the products, rather than different taste.
"The taste might be different. I am from Finland and I prefer products with less sugar than is usual in many other countries," EU's official said.
The issue becomes a problem when producers promote the product identically in different markets despite there being some differences, she added. The main responsibility as regards guaranteeing the same quality for all consumers or ensuring different product labeling will still lie with the local authorities, Astola underlined.
"Recently we amended the regulation concerning cooperation of consumer rights protection organizations, thus we have more effective tools as regards cross-border interaction," the EC official said.
The double standard within the EU was discovered not only in food stuffs, but also in cosmetics, household chemicals, and other products.