The quality of the products consumed is essential for everyone, but our fast-paced live often doesn’t allow us to pay enough attention to what we place on the dining table. Missing of breakfast or lunch is not a rare thing, while in the evening many tend to turn to ready-to-cook food, full of preservatives, coloring agents and other harmful stuff. Hunger is gone for a while, but soon we find ourselves in front of the fridge again, looking for some snack. This is the third reason after lack of enough movement and sports will for 25% of European children suffering from obesity, last year’s report of the World Health Organization shows. EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis commented during his recent visit to Bulgaria that despite this statistics, not enough was being done for sugar reduction in school food. In his words, one of the replacement options would be honey. The EU Commissioner also paid attention to two other painful issues: the quality of foods across retail chain stores and also the fact that barely 3% of the member-states’ healthcare budgets were allocated to prevention and prophylaxis. This percentage level should be pushed up for the greater EU good, but a political decision is necessary for the purpose. As far as the quality of foods was concerned, the EU Commissioner outlined the constant work on its improvement. Social inequality was also tackled during the discussion as an obstacle for consumers to shop with a view to good quality, not the price. The event was named Tasty or Healthy? Quality of EU Food and was part of the agenda of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It was also attended by Chair of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee Desislava Taneva. The accent of her speech was the need for changes within European regulations, concerning consumers’ protection.
“There is this dual standard and that has been clearly proven by the research across several EU member-states (including Bulgaria) in regard to products, sold under a common label on these markets. The system is aimed at satisfying the consumer’s interest. A consumer should be able to pick up food in accordance with his or her income. That is why any food with the same label across the different countries should contain the same ingredients and be with equal quality. However, changes in the current European regulation in that field are necessary first. Thus major companies, including international ones will have to offer several types of a given product – with lower and higher price, or under a different name, in order for the consumer to be able to comprehend it all.”
According to Desislava Taneva, the control over food quality in the EU is strict enough and provides guarantees for the safety of the products. Representatives of the Union of Gardeners and the Federation of Bread Producers and Confectioners in Bulgaria voiced to the forum’s attendants their concerns about their work in the sphere of agriculture. Chair of the Union of Gardeners Mariana Miltenova said that Bulgaria mainly imported fruit and vegetables due to the numerous entrepreneurs in bankruptcy for lack of subsidies. Desisalava Taneva declared a growth of fruit and vegetable production in 2017 with lots of perennials as well. Data, revealed by Chair of the Federation of Bread Producers Mariana Kukusheva show that 8 out of 10 loaves of bread produced have no clear quality and ingredients. The reason: the registration of bakeries with the Food Agency is not mandatory and their owners prefer to register those as companies. That is why only 20 out of 1,000 active bakeries in this country have been registered as producers.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev
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