Four multinational retailers in the Czech Republic are alleged to have deceived customers by prolonging expiry dates on some of their food products.

According to SZPI, the country's State Agricultural and Food Inspection agency, employees at Ahold, Schwarz Group's Kaufland, Rewe's Billa and Tesco had covered original labels on products, with labels detailing new consumption dates.

In reaction to the findings, a spokesperson for Ahold's chain in Prague told just-food that its store managers had tightened control on their delicatessen sections "with immediate effect". 

"[Store managers] must, for instance, check whether the labels on goods which have just arrived are correct and [in general] inspect all the products which have been packaged [in-house]," the spokesperson said.

A similar stance was taken by Schwarz. "In order to prevent [such behaviour of our employees] in future, it will be precisely defined where, when and who should be making sure that everything is normal," a spokesperson for Kaufland said.

A spokesperson for Billa said its stores are inspected around once a week but said that, in light of the findings, the checks would now be "even more in-depth". She added: "The focus will be, above all, on fresh food."

Tesco's Czech arm said the changes were made by individual members of staff and were not due to problems with its systems.

The inspectors have also looked into practices at Spar International's Interspar, Schwarz-owned Lidl and Rewe's Penny Market but did not come across similar behaviour, the SZPI said.