Explanatory Memorandum to COM(1995)722-3 - Honey

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dossier COM(1995)722-3 - Honey.
source COM(1995)722
date 17-04-1996
Avis juridique important


Proposal for a COUNCIL DIRECTIVE relating to honey /* COM/95/0722 FINAL - CNS 96/0114 */

Official Journal C 231 , 09/08/1996 P. 0010


Proposal for a Council Directive relating to honey

(96/C 231/03)

COM(95) 722 final - 96/0114(CNS)

(Submitted by the Commission on 30 May 1996)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 43 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament,

Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,

Whereas certain vertical Directives relating to foods should be simplified in order to take account only of the essential requirements to be met by the products they cover in order that those products may move freely within the internal market, in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council held in Edinburgh on 11 and 12 December 1992, confirmed by those of the European Council in Brussels on 10 and 11 December 1993;

Whereas attention should be paid to the drafting of Community law so as to make it more accessible, in accordance with the guidelines emerging from the Council Resolution of 8 June 1993 (1);

Whereas Council Directive 74/409/EEC of 22 July 1974 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to honey (2), as last amended by the Act of Accession of Spain and Portugal, was justified by the fact that differences between national laws on the definition of honey, the various types of honey and the characteristics required of it could result in conditions of unfair competition likely to mislead consumers, and thereby have a direct effect on the establishment and functioning of the common market;

Whereas the aforesaid Directive and its subsequent admendments consequently established definitions, specified the different types of honey which could be placed on the market under appropriate names, laid down common rules on composition and determined the main labelling information so as to ensure the free movement of these products within the Community;

Whereas Directive 74/409/EEC should be recast in order to bring it into line with general Community legislation on foodstuffs, particularly legislation on labelling, contaminants and methods of analysis;

Whereas the general food-labelling rules set out in Council Directive 79/112/EEC (3), as last amended by Commission Directive 93/102/EC (1), should apply subject to certain derogations;

Whereas, as the Commission stressed in its communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 24 June 1994 on European apiculture, the Commission is encouraging the development of harmonized methods of analysis to permit verification of compliance with quality specifications for the different honeys resulting from their botanical or geographical origin, in order to combat fraud; whereas work is being done in this connection by the Ispra Joint Research Centre and the industrial circles concerned;

Whereas, pursuant to the principle of proportionality, this Directive limits itself to what is necesssary in order to achieve the objectives, in accordance with the third paragraph of Article 3b thereof;

Whereas the Commission should be given the power to effect future adaptations to this Directive, acting via the consultation procedure within the Standing Committee for Foodstuffs;

Whereas, to avoid creating new barriers to free movement, Member States should refrain from adopting more detailed rules or rules not covered by this Directive for the products in question,



Article 1

This Directive shall apply to the products defined in Annex I. These products must meet the requirements set out in Annex II.


Article 2

Directive 79/112/EEC shall apply to the products defined in Annex I, subject to the following conditions:

1. The product names listed in Annex I shall apply only to the products referred to therein and must be used in trade to designate them. These names may be replaced by the simple product name 'honey`, except in the case of baker's honey or industrial honey.

However, in the case of industrial or baker's honey, those product names may be supplemented by information referring to:

- floral or vegetable origin, if the product comes essentially from the indicated source and possesses its organoleptic, physico-chemical and microscopic characteristics,

- regional, territorial or topographical origin, if the product comes entirely from the indicated source,

- specific quality criteria.

2. Member States may provide for the indication of the country of origin for honeys which do not originate in the Community.


Article 3

The Commission shall encourage the development of validated methods of analysis in the form of European norms to permit verification of compliance with quality specifications for the different honeys resulting from their botanical or geographical origin.


Article 4

Member States shall refrain from adopting more detailed national provisions or provisions not covered by this Directive for the products in question.


Article 5

Any adaptations necessary to bring this Directive into line with general Community rules on foodstuffs and adapt it to technical progress shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 6.


Article 6

The Commission shall be assisted by the Standing Committee on Foodstuffs, hereinafter referred to as 'the Committee`, composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The representative of the Commission shall submit to the Committee a draft of the measures to be taken. The Committee shall deliver its opinion on the draft, within a time limit which the chairman may lay down according to the urgency of the matter, if necessary by taking a vote.

The opinion shall be recorded in the minutes; in addition, each Member State shall be entitled to ask for its position to be recorded in the minutes.

The Commission shall take the utmost account of the opinion delivered by the Committee. It shall inform the Committee of the manner in which its opinion has been taken into account.


Article 7

Directive 74/409/EEC is hereby repealed with effect from 1 October 1997.

References to the repealed Directive shall be construed as references to this Directive.


Article 8

Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive before 1 October 1997. They shall immediately inform the Commission thereof.

The provisions shall be applied so as to:

- authorize the marketing of the products defined in Annex I if they conform to the definitions and rules laid down in this Directive, with effect from 1 October 1997,

- prohibit the marketing of products which fail to conform to this Directive, with effect from 1 April 1998.

However, the marketing of products which fail to conform to this Directive and labelled before 1 October 1997 in accordance with Directive 74/409/EEC shall be permitted until stocks are exhausted.

When Member States adopt these provisions, these shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such reference at the time of their official publication. The procedure for such reference shall be adopted by Member States.


Article 9

This Directive shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.


Article 10

This Directive is addressed to the Member States.

OJ No C 166, 17. 6. 1993, p. 1.

OJ No L 221, 12. 8. 1974, p. 10.

OJ No L 33, 8. 2. 1979, p. 1.

OJ No L 291, 25. 11. 1993, p. 14.




Honey is the foodstuff produced by the honey-bee from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions from or on the living parts of plants, and which the bees collect, transform, combine with specific substances of their own and leave to mature in honey combs.

The main types of honey are as follows:

(a) According to origin:


1. Blossom honey

Honey obtained predominantly from the nectar of blossoms.


2. Honeydew honey

Honey obtained predominantly from secretions from or on the living parts of plants.

(b) According to mode of presentation:


3. Comb honey

Honey stored by bees in the cells of freshly built broodless combs and sold in sealed whole combs or sections of such combs.


4. Chunk honey

Honey which contains one or more pieces of comb honey.


5. Drained honey

Honey obtained by draining decapped broodless combs.


6. Extracted honey

Honey obtained by centrifuging decapped broodless combs.


7. Press honey

Honey obtained by pressing broodless combs with or without the application of moderate heat.


8. Baker's honey or industrial honey

Honey which, although suitable for human consumption, has a foreign taste or odour, has begun to ferment, is effervescent, or has been heated, and has a diastase activity or a hydroxymethylfurfural content which does not comply with the specifications laid down in Annex II.




Honey consists essentially of different sugars, predominantly glucose and fructose. The colour of honey varies from nearly colourless to dark brown. The consistency can be fluid, viscous or partly to entirely crystallized.

When placed on the market as honey or used in any product intended for human consumption, honey must, as far as possible, be free from organic or inorganic matters foreign to its composition. With the exception of point 8 of Annex I, it must not have any foreign tastes or odours, have begun to ferment, have an artificially changed acidity or have been heated in such a way that the natural enzymes have been either destroyed or significantly inactivated.

No substances may be added to honey and none of its own essential constituents may be removed.

When placed on the market, honey must meet the following composition criteria: