Honey fraud causing a buzz in Europe as imports are mixed with syrup
27 Mar 2023 --- According to European Commission investigations, 46% of collected samples of honey imports are suspected of being adulterated with syrups. This situation has been denounced by Copa and Cogeca, who insist it is high time for the EU to act on honey fraud. According to investigations, 46% of the collected samples have been suspected of being adulterated with syrups. This situation has been denounced by Copa and Cogeca, who insists it is high time for the EU to act.
Thanks to joint work by DG Sante, JRC and OLAF, the Commission has quantified an alarming reality: of the 320 samples received from competent national authorities, 147 (46%) were suspected of non-compliance with the requirements of the EU Honey Directive.
Almost 74% of the Chinese, 93% of the Turkish and 100% of the British honey samples were considered “suspicious.”
“Twenty percent of all honey consumed in EU could be adulterated”
Commenting on the JRC’s report, Stanislav Jaš, the Copa and Cogeca Honey Working Party chairman, says the survey “clearly shows where problems come from.”
“If almost every second honey product imported into the EU is adulterated, 20% of all ‘honey’ consumed in the EU is adulterated. If we throw into the mix the fact that ‘fake honey’ is entering the EU at a cost as low as €1.5 (US$1.62) per kg from a relatively small number of countries, one can understand why we are going through a real agricultural disaster in the EU.”
The second report by DG Sante contains important conclusions too. The EC “confirms that a significant part of honey imported from non-EU countries and placed on the EU market is suspected of not complying with the provisions of the EU Honey Directive but goes undetected.”
The report further outlines that “improved, harmonized and generally accepted analytical methods are still needed to increase the capability of official control laboratories to detect honey adulterated with sugar syrups.”
Traceability from hive to pot?
“When will consumers finally know what’s really on their spoon?” underscores Etienne Bruneau, vice-chair of the Working Party. “To make this happen, three matters should be resolved at the EU level as a priority. Firstly, better labeling of honey blends with an obligation to mention the respective countries of origin with percentage shares in descending order.”
Secondly, Bruneau outlines that the EU “must update the official methods available to national control authorities for the detection of honey fraud and establish a community reference center to improve these methods continuously.”
“Lastly, member states must reinforce controls and systematically check imported honey batches based on those improved methods combined with proof of traceability from hive to pot,” she asserts.
EU decision-makers must act now to avoid the wrecking of the profession, which could lead
to a substantial decline of honeybees on the continent. Copa and Cogeca is calling on DG AGRI for an in-depth revision of the EU Honey Directive in the coming months.
Earlier this month, scientific testing on US and UK honey products claiming to be mānuka found 100% of the 46 brands are not from New Zealand. Furthermore, according to the country’s export standards, all analyzed products “missed key indicators of genuine mānuka honey,” explains the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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