The revision aims to help consumers make informed and healthier decisions on agri-food products such as honey, fruit juice, jam, jellies and marmalades.
On Tuesday, Parliament adopted its position on the revision of the so-called ‘breakfast’ directives with 522 votes in favour, 13 against and 65 abstentions. The proposal updates rules on the composition, name, labelling and presentation of certain ‘breakfast’ foodstuffs.
Clear labelling of country of origin
MEPs agree that the country where honey has been harvested must appear on the label. They add that for fruit juices, jams, jellies, marmalades and sweetened chestnut purée the country of origin of the fruit used must also be indicated on the front-label. If the honey or fruit used originates in more than one country, MEPs want the countries of origin to be indicated on the label in descending order according to the proportion they make up of the final product.
To limit fraud, MEPs want to set-up a traceability system for the honey supply chain to track product origin. They also want the EU to form a reference laboratory for honey to improve controls and to detect adulteration through systematic testing.
Sugar content labelling
MEPs propose that the label ‘contains only naturally occurring sugars’ should be allowed for fruit juices. To meet the growing demand for low-sugar products, reformulated fruit juices may be labelled ‘reduced-sugar fruit juice’.
New techniques that remove naturally occurring sugars 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 of the reduced-sugar foodstuff must not contain claims regarding positive properties, such as health benefits.
Rapporteur Alexander Bernhuber (EPP, Austria) said: “Today is a good day for more transparent labelling. A more precise indication of the countries of origin of products will provide more transparency and will make it easier for consumers to choose healthier and more regional products. We will stop fraudulent practices around honey labels, which in the future will have to clearly state the countries of origin and, in the case of blended honeys, the respective proportions of the countries of origin as percentages. This together with other measures will protect consumers and beekeepers from adulterated honey, and facilitate informed consumer choices through more transparency.”
Parliament is now ready to begin talks with EU governments on the final shape of the law.
The revision of EU marketing standards for certain ‘breakfast’ directives was proposed by the European Commission on 21 April 2023 to update current standards that are more than 20 years old.