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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria said on Saturday it would conduct checks on different food products of multinational companies sold in the Balkan state and compare them with food sold in richer western European countries, amid concerns over quality.
Consumer groups have complained that popular brands use poorer-quality ingredients in products sold in central and eastern Europe than in countries like Germany and Austria.
However, they have had little recourse to complain because the European Union only requires that the packaging contain a clear list of all ingredients.
Bulgaria's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Rumen Porozhanov said experts had already purchased chocolate, dairy and meat products, non-alcoholic beverages, juices and baby foods from Germany and Austria and would make the quality checks after buying the identical products in Bulgaria.
"Next week we will buy identical products that are sold on the Bulgarian market by the big chains and then the analysis will start," Porozhanov said after a government meeting.
"We have a united vision of conducting such measures with the countries of the Visegrad Four," he added, referring to Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary which have already criticized several global food companies on the issue.
The eastern European countries want to lobby within the EU to stop companies from offering identical brands and packaging but different lists of ingredients in the "old" and "new" EU member states.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Gareth Jones