The EU is taking strides to combat food fraud in the honey market, following the results of a coordinating testing and sampling campaign revealing almost half of imported honey samples to be adulterated.

On June 13, 2024, the same day that revised EU legislation on honey labeling came into force (Directive EU 2024/1438), the European Commission also announced a call for experts to form a new “Honey Platform,” which will advise the Commission on honey authenticity and traceability. In addition to setting new honey origin label claims and composition requirements, Directive EU 2024/1438 calls for the creation of the Honey Platform to help the Commission develop harmonized traceability rules that enable honey to be tracked from harvest to retail.

The compliance date for the amended Directive EU 2024/1438 is June 14, 2026, by which date it will be mandatory for honey blends’ labels to include the countries of origin in descending order, with the percentage share of each origin. Member States are granted the flexibility to require percentages for the four largest shares only when they account for more than 50 percent of the blend.

Additionally, the directive asks the Commission to introduce rules on the harmonized methods of analysis to detect honey adulteration with sugar within four years; and, within five years, rules on methods to trace honey origin, as well as criteria to identify when honey is overheated and when pollen is not removed. The Honey Platform will be assembled to support the Commission in these tasks.

The Honey Platform, comprising 90 technical experts, is expected to gather data on methods to improve authenticity controls of honey; provide recommendations for an EU traceability system, composition criteria, and a possible reference laboratory; and carry out other activities. Stakeholders along the honey supply chain, civil society, and experts in a personal capacity, including those from academia, are encouraged to submit their application for the Honey Platform. The call for applications is open until July 15, 2024. The first meeting of the Honey Platform is slated for November 2024, and it will meet twice a year thereafter. The Directorate General of Agriculture of the European Commission will serve as the Chair of the Honey Platform.

Parallel to the work of the Honey Platform, the Commission and the EU Joint Research Center are collaborating to establish validated analytical methods to detect honey adulteration with sugar.