site.btaInternational Lab Finds Low Quality, Misleading Labelling of Bulgarian Sheep Cheeses
Labs tests by one of the most reputable international reference laboratories show that only one out of the ten tested Bulgarian white and yellow cheeses from sheep milk was made using sheep milk only. The other dairy products contained cow's milk as well, in some cases even up to 50%, despite being labelled as a sheep product. Another product - white cheese from buffalo milk - was found to not contain even a gram of buffalo milk, the Association for Accessible and Quality Food said Thursday.
The Association ordered and financed the lab tests, the first of the qDNA type ever ordered by a Bulgarian client. The Association has a long-standing programme for civil control of food products and making information about them public.
Andrey Velchev, head of the Association's Management Board, said that the wide-spread practice of Bulgarian cheese producers to use ingredients different than those listed on the final product's label do not only make consumers pay more for actually cheaper products but also endanger those who purchase cheese from sheep milk for health reasons. The principles of competition have been violated, because a litre of sheep milk costs three-fold more than cow's milk, he specified. It is prohibited to use ingredients not listed on the label, he recalled.
Part of the solution to the problem lies in introducing a branch standard to be voluntarily observed, the Association believes. However, the State through the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency and the Commission for the Protection of Competition should play a decisive role in controlling and sanctioning violators. "We insist on legislative changes allowing the State's control bodies to publicly name the companies violating the provisions on quality food production. It is unacceptable for the State to tolerate producers who trick clients, make illegal profits and endanger people's health," Velchev argued.
If the test results do not lead to the necessary measures to protect consumers, the Association plans to hold a news conference where it will announce its next steps aimed at giving Bulgarian society the biggest possible opportunity to make an informed decision when purchasing low quality food products sold in retail chains.