Change Breakfast Directions.  Protecting honey from counterfeiting, labels containing accurate information

The European Parliament in Strasbourg supported changing the so-called “breakfast directive”. It aims to help consumers make informed, health-friendly decisions regarding agri-food products such as honey, fruit juices, jams, jellies and marmalades. Honey should be better protected from adulteration, and fruit juice and jam labels should contain accurate information on sugar content.

Parliament adopted its position on Tuesday with a majority of 522 votes in favor, 13 votes in opposition, and 65 abstentions. The proposal updates the rules regarding the composition, name, labeling and serving of certain “breakfast” food products.

Label requirements

Members of the European Parliament agree that the country in which the honey was harvested must be indicated on the label. They add that in the case of fruit juices, jams, jellies, marmalades and sweetened chestnut purees, the country of origin of the fruit used must also be indicated on the front label. If the honey or fruit used comes from more than one country, MEPs want to indicate the countries of origin on the label in descending order, according to their share in the final product.

To reduce fraud, MEPs want to create a system to control the honey supply chain allowing product traceability. They also want the European Union to establish a reference laboratory for honey to improve controls and detect adulteration through systematic tests.

MEPs propose allowing the label to “contain only natural sugars” for fruit juices. To meet the growing demand for low-sugar products, reformulated fruit juices can be classified as “low-sugar fruit juice.”

New technologies to remove sugars naturally present in fruit juices, jams, jellies or milk should not lead to the use of sweeteners to compensate for the effect of sugar reduction on the taste, texture and quality of the final product, MEPs say. They add that labels for low-sugar foods cannot contain assertions about positive properties, for example health benefits.

“We will stop fraudulent practices”

Rapporteur Alexander Bernhuber (European People’s Party, Austria) said that a more precise indication of the countries of origin of products would ensure greater transparency and make it easier for consumers to choose healthier and more regional products.

– We will stop fraudulent practices on honey labels, which in the future must clearly indicate countries of origin and, in the case of mixed honey, percentages of countries of origin. He stressed that this, along with other measures, will protect consumers and beekeepers from honey adulteration and make it easier for consumers to make informed choices thanks to greater transparency.

The European Parliament is now ready to start talks with EU governments on the final form of the law.

Main image source: gorodenkov/shutterstock

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