The EU recently led an investigation into honey imports, with the results showing that nearly half of all imported honey between 2021 and 2022 had been diluted. This has raised concerns about the quality of honey imports, as many have had other syrups added to them.
In light of this, the European Parliament has approved the idea of a revamp of European honey marketing regulations to curb the influx of counterfeit imports, primarily originating from China.
One proposal is for the Commission to revise the “Breakfast directives” to involve more transparent country-of-origin labeling for all imported honey.
During a plenary vote in Strasbourg on 12th December, European lawmakers discussed the need for clear labeling, specifying that countries of origin should be listed in descending order on honey labels, reflecting their respective percentage contributions to each pot’s weight.
The Commission proposed the reform of the “Breakfast directives” in April to update EU marketing standards for breakfast foodstuffs, including fruit juices, jams, and honey. Some of these standards were more than two decades old.
When it comes to importing honey into the single market, non-compliance with EU regulations is still an issue. The detection methods in use are not foolproof, particularly concerning the identification of sugar syrup use. The proposed labeling measures aim to protect consumers, and beekeepers by providing more transparency to make an informed choice.
MEP Alexander Bernhuber, the rapporteur on the file, pointed out that the labeling changes would combat fraudulent practices and safeguard consumers and beekeepers from adulterated honey. The approved measures are seen as essential to this.
The European Parliament views the new labeling requirements as an initial step towards implementing a traceability system. This system would provide essential information about the origin of honey, the production year, and a unique producer identifier.
Interinstitutional talks with the EU Council will commence following the Parliament’s vote, and there is optimism for an agreement before the Parliamentary term concludes next year, given that ministers have already agreed on their negotiating positions.
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