AIM, the European Brands Association, and FoodDrinkEurope, the European food and drink industry organisation, welcome the release of a new harmonised methodology for comparing the quality related characteristics of foods by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC). Announced last week by Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, responsible for the JRC, the EU-harmonised methodology will be an important step towards objectively assessing the facts and evidence behind the allegations of "dual quality" of food in various parts of Europe.
The JRC methodology, which is aimed at assessing compositional and sensory characteristics of foods, serves as a 'blueprint' for national authorities for future tests and will serve as the basis for a pan-European testing campaign which will be undertaken as of next month.
The blueprint includes important recommendations and principles to ensure that future food product tests are done in a robust way. Amongst others, principles of transparency, comparability and inclusiveness have been included, which for the first time means that brand owners will be consulted throughout the various steps of the process (product selection, sampling and testing, and data interpretation). The methodology also acknowledges that "...food quality is a complex and multi-dimensional concept which is influenced by a wide range of situational and contextual factors" and that "compositional and sensory differences cannot, per se, be translated into different levels of product quality".
FoodDrinkEurope and AIM confirm their readiness to support the pan-European testing campaign and agree with the Commission that as many Member States as possible should participate in it, so as to get a geographically representative picture of the nature and extent of the alleged issue; this may also help to further clarify the concept of "significant difference".