By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:28 PM on 7th November 2011
Sticky situation: a jar of Rowse honey, which is set to get more expensive because of increased costs
It is, you might think, one of nature’s purest delicacies. But not for the labelling police of the EU.
Under new regulations, jars of honey will have to be marked ‘contains pollen’ – a move experts have branded ludicrous, and say could put some British beekeepers out of business.
It will also have to undergo expensive tests to prove it does not contain unauthorised genetically modified pollen.
Until now, honey had always been considered an entirely unadulterated product for the purposes of food labelling.
But the European Court of Justice has decreed that pollen is an ingredient of honey rather than an intrinsic component.
It means that products will, for the first time, have to carry a list of ingredients such as ‘honey (contains pollen)’.
Britain’s biggest supplier of retail honey, Rowse, said that the bill for re-labelling and testing its entire range will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
John Howat, secretary of the Bee Farmers’ Association, which represents Britain’s 300 commercial beekeepers, said: ‘This ruling is a real nuisance.
‘the idea that pollen is an ingredient of honey is nonsense. Pollen is integral to honey. Bees collect nectar and pollen. When they are storing it away pollen gets into the nectar and hence into the honey.’
Un-bee-lievable: Beekeepers face a raft of new regulations which they say will hit them hard
The ruling came after a German amateur beekeeper found small amounts of GM pollen in his honey. he suedthe state of Bavaria, which owned trial GM maize plots near his hives, for damaging his produce.
HONEY IS ‘AN INGREDIENT’
The UK’s Food Standards Agency has written to leading industry figures to tell them what they need to do.
SandyLawrie, head of its novel foods unit, wrote: ‘The Commission held meetings at the end of September with representatives from honey exporting countries and with EU stakeholders.
‘Theyconfirmed that the implications of the ECJ ruling are clear in that: pollen is regarded as both a component of honey and an ingredient, as defined in food labelling legislation.
‘Honey should therefore be labelled with a list of ingredients.
‘Ifsome or all of the pollen is from a GM source, it should be labelled accordingly unless it is exempt under the 0.9 per cent threshold.
‘This proportion is calculated in relation to the total pollen content of the product.
‘The Commission’s Joint Research Centre is evaluating methods for extracting pollen DNA from honey.’
His case ended in the ECJ reclassifying pollen as a food ingredient, in a ruling that cannot be appealed.
Anyone who sells honey to the public, including Britain’s 40,000 amateur beekeepers, faces tests.
Suppliers whose pollen is found to bemore than 0.9 per cent GM must undergo full safety authorisation and label their honey accordingly.
But experts say it is unlikely that any honey produced in Britain will contain that level of GM pollen – andclaim scientists cannot quantify the content of pollen to that degree of accuracy.
Patrick Robinson, of Oxfordshire-based firm Rowse, said: ‘there is a tiny amount of GM pollenall round the world now. But beekeepers do not tend to put their hives next to cultivated crops.’
He added: ‘To say honey contains pollen is like saying peanuts contain nuts…This could be really damagingto smaller producers and beekeepers.
‘if they have to add on a