Pollen as specific 'Ingredient' or Natural Honey Component?

After a court ruling the EU directive on "production and marketing of honey" is updated regarding the question whether pollen is an ingredient or a component of honey.

How did we get here?

In Case C-442/09 the European Court of Justice decided that the existing Directive 2001/110/EC on "Production and marketing of honey" has to be updated in the light of the question whether pollen is an ingredient or a natural constituent of honey. The Court actually ruled that honey is a natural substance that has no ingredients. Yet, it is not that easy, especially when it comes to genetically modifed pollen.


Why is this important for me?

The legislation is introduced in order to ensure freedom of information and choice for consumers. A sufficient level of information shown on the product has to be found enabling the consumers to make a well-considered decision when buying honey.


What's the content?

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, led by the report's rapporteur Julie Girling (ECR, UK), asked to consider pollen as an ingredient, but solely in the case that it is derives from genetically modified crops. In this case honey has to be labelled as foodstuffs containing ingredients produced from genetically modified organisms. Generally however, meaning if the honey does not contain genetically modified pollen, it must not have a list of ingredients, since it is a natural product. Yet, the plenary of the European Parliament rejected this recommendation by its committee. The amended text stipulates that pollen, being a natural constituent particular to honey, shall not be considered an ingredient. However, genetically modified pollen must be indicated nevertheless, if they are present as a quantity of more than 0.9% of the honey (and not of the pollen).


What's happening with this legislation in the future?

Because of this conflict and some considerable pressure from the public the matter was referred back for reconsideration to the committee responsible. The rapporteur received a mandate from the plenary to start negotiations with the Greek presidency of the Council, representing the Member States, with a view to reaching agreement. In May 2014 the negotiations were successful and they agreed on the following : Pollen is a natural component of honey and not an active ingredient. If GMO-pollen in honey does not exceed 0,9% and the presence is technically unavoidable, then no labelling is required. If honey is from more than one EU-country or from third countries this needs to be indicated on the package. (e.g. "blend of non-EU honies").


Related Bills:

More Possibilities for the Restriction of GMOs

Cloning of animals

Updated rules on 'novel foods'


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