The European Parliament and member states reached an agreement on Tuesday evening (31 January) on the ‘Breakfast Directive’, which includes improving transparency on the origin of honey, one of the most popular products more adults.classified foods.
Under current EU rules, jars of honey must indicate the exact country of origin if the product comes from a single country, but things get confusing for blends of honey from different origins. The labels indicate either “mixture of honey from EU and third countries”, “mixture of honey originating in the EU” or “mixture of non-EU originating honey”.
The situation becomes even less transparent if we consider the results of a European study which reveals that almost half of EU honey imports likely fraudulent.
“Marketing standards ensure that the food we eat is of high quality. The agreement we reached today on these revised standards will allow consumers to make informed choices about the food they eat and will help fight food fraud,” said David Clarinval, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister of Agriculture.
The agreement, which will soon be approved by the Parliament and the Council, establishes that the countries of origin must be indicated on the label accompanying the name of the product in descending order, based on weight.
Additionally, the percentage coming from all countries must be indicated. Member States may choose to display the four most significant shares, but only if these represent more than 50% of the weight of the mixture.
The Commission is checking the feasibility of a system allowing consumers to trace honey back to producers. An expert platform will help the EU executive develop new methods to combat honey fraud.
As recalled by Commission proposal Presented in April 2023, the renewal of the so-called “breakfast” directives overhauled the marketing standards established in seven directives dated from 1999 to 2001 to help consumers make more informed and healthier choices.
In addition to labeling honey, the changes include new rules for jams, marmalades and fruit juices and pave the way for making lactose-free dried milk.
Sugar in fruit juices and jams
To raise consumer awareness of the sugar content of fruit juices, the EU will authorize three new product categories: “Reduced sugar fruit juice” if at least 30% of natural sugars have been removed. No sweeteners are used to compensate for “reduced sugar concentrated fruit juices” and “reduced sugar concentrated fruit juices”.
Additionally, the label “contains only natural sugars” will be permitted.
The EU will increase the minimum fruit content required to market jams and marmalades. The general rule will be that at least 450 grams of fruit must be used to produce 1 kilo of jams and marmalades (100 grams per kilo more than today).
The two co-legislators agreed to authorize the use of treatments producing lactose-free dehydrated dairy products.
Parliament called for mandatory country-of-origin labeling of fruit used to make juices, jams, jellies, marmalades and sweet chestnut puree, but no agreement was reached.
According to Member States, a provision as such would require an assessment of the impact on producers and consumers. The Commission will prepare a report on the subject within 36 months of the entry into force of the directive.
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