Are half of the honeys imported into the EU “adulterated”? – France

The EU imports around 40% of its honey consumption, making it the world’s second largest importer after the United States. And half of those jars of honey are suspected to be adulterated. The survey by the European Commission’s research service and the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf), published on Thursday, shows that out of 320 samples recently checked in sixteen Member States, around 46% are strongly suspected of breaching the rules of the EU. This is much more than the 14% noted during the last study in 2015-1017.

In detail, 74% of the 89 honeys originating in China were deemed suspect, like almost all of the honeys imported from Turkey (14 out of 15). All ten honeys entered by the United Kingdom are considered non-compliant, “probably due to mixtures of honeys produced elsewhere before re-export”. Ukrainian, Mexican and Brazilian honeys are also pinned.

Addition of sugar syrups

Main fraudulent technique: the addition of sugar syrups (rice, wheat or beetroot) to lower the price, but the report also mentions the use of additives and colorings or the falsification of traceability information.

“Honey naturally contains sugars and, according to EU law, it must remain pure: there can be no water or cheap sugar syrups artificially added to increase the volume,” recalls Olaf.

The average value of imported honey was thus 2.32 euros/kg in 2021, compared to a cost of 0.40-0.60 euros/kg for rice-based sugar syrups. “If the risk to human health is low, such practices deceive consumers and disadvantage honest producers in the face of unfair competition”, insists the anti-fraud policeman.

” Unfair competition “

“This alarming result demonstrates that the European market is a real sieve that allows fraudsters to sell their fake products,” reacted the consumer defense NGO Foodwatch.

These figures “shed light on this deception: the EU market flooded with + honey + syrup base”, abounds the powerful agricultural confederation Copa-Cogeca, pointing to the danger of a “annihilation” of European beekeeping at the time when honey bee populations are already dropping.

The problem seems systemic: out of 123 exporters of honey to Europe, 70 are suspected of having adulterated their products, and out of 95 European importers checked, two-thirds are concerned by at least one suspicious batch.

To date, “44 operators in the EU have been investigated and seven have been sanctioned,” says Olaf.

Of the 21 samples taken in France, only four were “real honey”. In Germany, which concentrates a third of European imports, half of the 32 samples taken were suspect.

Foodwatch calls for “means of control to the height”, “a harmonized methodology to identify fraud”, and above all “to urgently correct the opacity” on the composition of honeys.

The situation alarms member states: in January, around twenty of them, including France, called on the European Commission to tighten transparency obligations in its expected revision of the existing regulations of 2001.

“Current rules put producers of honey from one country on an equal footing with producers of honey blends,” observed a statement drafted by Slovenia and supported by 19 other states, calling for changes to labeling rules for “ provide more detailed information on the origin of honey” and “improve the profitability of the sector”.

Copa-Cogeca proposes to make mandatory on the labels of honey blends “the mention of the different countries of origin in descending order with the percentages”, and calls for “systematic checks of imported honey batches”.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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