Tough new rules on honey entered into force in the UK yesterday bringing the country up to date with recently amended European legislation.
The new regulations implement the EC directive 2001/110 adopted throughout Europe in 2001 and include a range of tighter but harmonised rules.
Sales names for honey products that comply with certain specifications are included, as are a set of additional labelling requirements.
There is a new requirement to label the country or countries where the honey was harvested. In the case of blended honeys, the label must indicate if any or all of it came from the EC although terms such as 'blend of EC honeys', 'blend of non-EC honeys' or 'blend of EC and non-EC honeys' are considered appropriate.
Honey that has been finely filtered will have to be labelled as filtered honey and there are new labelling requirements for baker's honey. Filtered and baker's honey should not be labelled with additional information on the floral or vegetable origin, regional or topographical origin, or specific quality criteria.
According to the UK food safey agency, which this week issued a set of guidelines on the new rules, there has been some tightening of the limits for certain specific criteria and honey must now meet a new lower limit of 40mg/kg or less for any hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) present. HMF is a sugar-breakdown product and is used as indicator of honey quality since it increases with temperature and storage time. Although the HMF rule does not apply to honey that comes from tropical climates or their blends.
Guidance notes on the new rules can be found on the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) website in addition to information on the Honey (England) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/ 2243) and Honey Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (S.R.2003/ No.383).