EUROPE – The European Union is intensifying efforts to combat food fraud in the honey market following a coordinated testing and sampling campaign that revealed nearly half of imported honey samples were adulterated.

On June 13, 2024, the European Commission unveiled a multifaceted approach to address this issue, coinciding with the enactment of revised EU legislation on honey labeling, Directive EU 2024/1438.

Directive EU 2024/1438 introduces stringent new labeling requirements for honey, mandating that by June 14, 2026, honey blends must include labels detailing the countries of origin in descending order, along with the percentage share of each origin.

Member States have the flexibility to require percentage shares for the four largest origins only when they collectively account for more than 50 percent of the blend.

In addition to the labeling requirements, the directive mandates the European Commission to develop harmonized methods for detecting honey adulteration with sugar within four years.

Within five years, the Commission is to establish methods for tracing honey origin and criteria to identify overheated honey and pollen removal.

To support these tasks, the Commission has announced the creation of the “Honey Platform,” a new advisory panel dedicated to honey authenticity and traceability.

The platform, composed of 90 technical experts, will provide data and recommendations on improving authenticity controls, establishing an EU traceability system, and defining composition criteria. The platform will also explore the possibility of setting up a reference laboratory.

The call for experts to join the Honey Platform is open until July 15, 2024. The platform invites stakeholders across the honey supply chain, civil society, and academia to apply.

The first meeting of the Honey Platform is scheduled for November 2024, with subsequent meetings to be held biannually. The Directorate General of Agriculture of the European Commission will chair the platform.

Parallel efforts to enhance honey testing methods

In parallel with the platform’s activities, the European Commission and the EU Joint Research Center are working together to establish validated analytical methods to detect honey adulteration with sugar.

These efforts are part of a broader strategy to ensure the authenticity and traceability of honey sold within the EU.

The new directive and the establishment of the Honey Platform mark a significant step towards enhancing the integrity of the EU honey market. By implementing rigorous labeling and traceability requirements, along with developing advanced analytical methods, the EU aims to protect consumers from fraudulent honey products and support genuine honey producers.

These measures are expected to foster greater transparency and trust in the honey supply chain, benefiting both consumers and producers.

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