Hungary cheesed off over food ‘double standards’

Hungary cheesed off over food 'double standards'
Photo: Paul Gillingwater
Hungary on Monday announced an inquiry after a study by the food safety agency suggested many food products sold with identical packaging were superior in neighbouring Austria.

Products made by food giants including Unilever and Nestle, from chocolate spreads to packet soups, were seemingly tastier, creamier or bigger in Austria, according to a study of 24 brands by Hungary's food safety authority.

“This is primarily a moral question, not a legal one,” said Robert Zsigo, a government official responsible for supermarket oversight.

The inspections will compare the quality of 100 identically branded products in Hungarian and foreign shops, Zsigo told reporters in Budapest.

The food agency's report, seen by AFP on Monday, looked at the taste, composition and packaging information of products at the Spar, Metro, Lidl and Aldi chains in Hungary and Austria.

Among a list of discrepancies, the agency said the version of Nutella, the children's favourite chocolate-and-hazelnut spread from Ferrero, appeared to be “less creamy” than the Austria version.

The aroma of Coca-Cola was seemingly “less rich, less complex” in Hungary, the agency said, while the flavour of Nestle's Nesquik cocoa powder was “more harmonious and intense” in Austria.

And the report said some of Unilever's Knorr packet soups in Hungary were found to contain about 20 percent less powder than in Austria, despite identical packaging.

Their “Carbonara” product also contained three different types of cheese ingredients in Austria, compared with none in Hungary.

“Hungarians want fair treatment… not double standards,” Zsigo said. 

He said the first results of the wider inspection could be announced next month.

A comparison conducted in December found similar findings for Slovakia.