Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
EU labelling rules for honey

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Languages and formats available
Multilingual display
Text

EU labelling rules for honey

The European Union defines specific rules for honey supplementing its laws on foodstuffs.

ACT

Council Directive 2001/110/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to honey.

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

Besides rules on the composition and definition of honey, it specifies the types of honey products which can be sold under given names and rules on labelling, presentation and information on origin.

KEY POINTS

The directive supplements the general EU rules on food labelling set down in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. Essential consumer information must be included on labels and, in particular, labels must include the country of origin of the honey and the product names, as set out in Annex I.

Definition

Honey is a natural sweet substance produced by Apis mellifera bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on plants. Bees collect it, transform it by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit it, dehydrate it, store it and leave it in honeycombs to ripen and mature.

Composition

When commercialised as honey or used in a product intended for human consumption, honey must meet the composition criteria set out in the directive’s Annex II.

Directive 2014/63/EU clarifies that pollen is a natural constituent rather than an ingredient of honey.

Labels

Directive 2014/63/EU also clarifies the labelling requirements where honey originates in more than one EU country or a non-EU country. In these cases, the indicator of the country of origin may be replaced by one of the following indications, as appropriate:

  • ‘blend of EU honeys’;
  • ‘blend of non-EU honeys’,
  • ‘blend of EU and non-EU honeys’.

In certain cases, these names may be replaced by the simple product name ‘honey’ (except in the case of ‘filtered honey’*, ‘comb honey’** ‘chunk honey or cut comb in honey’*** or ‘baker's honey’****).

Information on regional, territorial or topographical origin, on floral or vegetable origin or on specific quality criteria may supplement this labelling (except for ‘filtered honey’ and ‘baker's honey’).

Directive 2014/63/EU allows the European Commission to adopt further laws (delegated acts) laying down two parameters for the criterion of ‘mainly’ as regards the floral or vegetable origin of honey and the minimal content of pollen in filtered honey following removal of foreign inorganic or organic matter.

WHEN DOES THIS DIRECTIVE APPLY?

Directive 2001/110/EC applies from 1 February 2002. Directive 2014/63/EU applies from 23 June 2014. Honeys for sale or labelled before 24 June 2015 may continue to be marketed until the exhaustion of stocks.

KEY TERMS

* Filtered honey: honey obtained by removing foreign inorganic or organic matter in such a way as to result in the significant removal of pollen.

** Comb honey: honey stored by bees in the cells combs or thin comb foundation sheets made solely of beeswax and sold in sealed whole combs or sections of such combs.

*** Chunk honey or cut comb in honey: honey which contains one or more pieces of comb honey.

**** Baker’s honey: the words ‘intended for cooking only’ must appear on the label in close proximity to the product name.

REFERENCES

Act

Date of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2001/110/EC

1.2.2002

31.7.2003

OJ L 10, 12.1.2002, pp. 47-52

Amending act

Date of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2014/63/EU

23.6.2014

24.6.2015

OJ L 164, 3.6.2014, pp. 1-5

RELATED ACTS

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Commission Directive 87/250/EEC, Council Directive 90/496/EEC, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 608/2004 (Official Journal L 304, 22.11.2011, pp. 18-63).

last update 20.02.2015

Top