March 5. 2024. 7:21

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Concerns over food quality in Croatia confirmed in recent findings


Undeclared and oftentimes cheaper ingredients were added to 5% of food products analysed on the local retail market, with meat, honey, milk and cheese being the most ‘spoiled’ foodstuffs, the Health Ministry has found.

“Honey was found to sometimes contain sugars and essential oils which may be hazardous to health. Also, some minced meat samples were found to contain collagen. There were also cases where olive oil sold to consumers has been diluted using cheaper alternatives. Canned tuna was also found to contain cheaper low-quality fish,” the ministry’s food safety expert, Dario Lasic, told state broadcaster HRT.

Data released by the state inspectorate also seem to confirm the findings – out of 14 random samples of wine, half were found to include sugar and water.

In pumpkin seed oil – a popular condiment used in salads – more than half were found to be counterfeit mixtures, and other undeclared additives were also detected in samples of milk, cheese, bread, and meat.

Some of these additives were not listed on labels, but even when they were, consumers were often unaware, according to research the ministry conducted before the pandemic.

Indeed, consumers (51%) choose products primarily based on price, with only one in three checking the labelling before purchase, and less than one in ten reading about the nutritional values of what they are buying.

The findings finally confirm the results of a survey commissioned by Croatian MEP and consumer rights champion Biljana Borzan (S&D), she tweeted on Thursday.

“I find it interesting that data reported by inspectors about the frequency of fraudulent foodstuffs matches, for the most part, the perception of consumers as to which foods are most commonly used for cheating. My survey, done last spring, shows these are honey, meat, and cooking oil,” Borzan said.

In the survey, which Borzan presented in September 2022, and which was done using a sample of little over 800 shoppers, the top five foodstuffs consumers were most sceptical about were honey, fresh meat, organically farmed products, olive oil, and cured meats.

Moreover, 72% agreed that food labelling is complicated and difficult to understand, while 90% agreed that imported ingredients are often falsely portrayed as locally sourced.

(David Spaic-Kovacic | EURACTIV.hr)