The Council of the European Union have approved new rules that will among other things see it become illegal to add sugars to fruit juices.
The new EU directive,which will apply to all fruit juices marketed in the EU, irrespective of their origin, is said to be aimed at further aligning European laws on fruit juices to those already in place internationally as part of the Codex Alimentarius (74/11 + 6834/12 ADD 1).
The legislation received its agreement upon first reading at the European Parliament, meaning the directive is now adopted. The laws are expected to enter into force by the start of June – when the legislation is due to be published in the Official Journal of the EU.
After this, member states will have 18 months to convert the EU directive into national laws – with the EU stating that the new rules must be enforced nationally by the end of the 18 month period.
No more ‘No added sugar’...
One of the major changes is the blocking of added sugars to fruit juices.
Since the addition of sugars was previously allowed, it has previously been common for labels claiming ‘no added sugars’ to appear on products that have already moved to remove added sugars in juices.
The new laws will mean the use of such a claim will be no longer authorised, as all fruit juices present on the market will be banned from containing the added sugars.
However, to enable the industry to properly inform consumers of the changes to laws, the directive does authorise manufacturers to use a statement on labels which informs its customers that from a certain date no fruit juices contain added sugars.
The new label will be authorised both during the 18 month transitional period and for another 18 months after its end.
The directive also adds tomatoes to the list of fruits used for fruit juice's production – meaning that tomato juices will be subject to the same specific rules as other fruit juices, rather than solely to the general EU food law as it is currently the case.
The new rules also include confirmation of the existing law which states that each fruit that a juice is made from must be indicated in the product name. The legislation does however state that in cases where a juice is produced from three and more fruits an indication of the fruits may be replaced by the words "several fruits".
In addition Brix values (designing the soluble dry matter content) for four fruit juices (blackcurrent, guava, mango and passion fruit) will be aligned with the levels of the Codex Alimentarius.