Every tenth batch of fruit and vegetables in stores checked by trade inspectors was mislabelled with its country of origin or gave no information at all, a study by the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) found.
Major retailers have been pulled up by inspectors in the first half of the year, with the worst offenders this time around being Delikatesy Centrum where infringements were discovered in 25 percent of the batches tested. E.Leclerc, Intermarche, Lidl, Dino and Kaufland were also among the worst perpetrators.
Poland’s largest retailer Biedronka, owned by Jeronimo Martins, did not figure on the top offenders list, but proceedings are already underway against the chain for previous mislabelling charges. Small retailers were responsible for over a third of infringements.
“I will institute proceedings against those companies which mislead consumers,” Tomasz Chróstny, The Chairman of UOKiK said.
A penalty of up to 10% of a retailer’s annual turnover can be imposed for practices that violate the collective interests of consumers, according to the official.
From July 1, food inspections in stores will be taken over by the Commercial Quality Inspection for Agricultural and Food Products.
The products which are most likely to be given the wrong labelling of origin were where the spotlight was shone: potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, garlic, strawberries and apples.
Inspectors found that iceberg lettuce from Spain, cherry tomatoes from Morocco or onions from the Netherlands were presented as Polish on the veg shelf signs.