Misleading labelling of honey and fishery products

9.12.2015

<p>A survey carried out by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira in summer and autumn 2015 revealed that one fifth of honey products were mislabelled. In one fishery product, the raw material was a species of fish different from what was declared on the label. All in all, Evira analysed 44 honey and 83 fishery product samples to assess the prevalence of fraudulent practices. &nbsp;</p>

This EU-wide project coordinated by the European Commission used chemical analysis and the methods of molecular biology to determine whether the food product corresponded to the information given to consumers. Fishery products and honey samples of both Finnish and foreign origin were analyzed in Finland.The fishery products were prepared from species of white fish.

A total of ten honey products carried misleading markings on the package. Of these, three were produced by Finnish companies and the rest elsewhere in the EU. Several methods of determination are required to establish the authenticity of honey. For example, by analyzing the pollen contained in the honey, it is possible to say whether the honey comes from the area indicated in the label. With some foreign honey products, the country of origin was different from what was declared. All the honies labelled Finnish came from Finland. Of all the honey samples taken in the EU territory, 19 per cent were found to be non-compliant.

“Measures need to be taken to improve compliance in the production of honey and improve control across the EU. Consumers must be able to rely on labelling information”, says Senior Inspector Jussi Peusa of Evira.

In one fishery product, saithe was substituted by cod contrary to the label.

“For Finland’s part, the findings made in the control of fishery products were a pleasant surprise. I had thought that more cases of non-compliance would be found in fish raw materials of foreign origin.”

Of all the fishery products analyzed in the EU, 6 per cent failed to conform.

A special laboratory method is in place to identify fish species, which will be used more extensively in future.

Evira will take regulatory action to address the problems discovered in the course of the study.

Municipal food supervisors collected product samples from importers, producers, wholesalers and retailers. In 41 per cent of the fishery products the fish was of Finnish origin. Of the honey samples, one third contained Finnish honey, one third honey produced in some other specified country, and one third honey which was said consist of a mixture of honies originating from a number of countries.

More active intervention in case of food fraud

Foods must carry the mandatory labelling. The food information may not mislead consumers or corporate customers.

Commission-coordinated efforts to combat food fraud will be pursued throughout the EU. This 2015 EU-wide project is a continuation to a previous regulatory project focusing on the identification of different types of meat. The authorities’ objective is to foresee and identify potential food fraud and address the problem vigorously.

Read more:
Commission communication relating to the project http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dyna/enews/index_archive.cfm

Evira’s press releases:
21.7.2014 No horse meat sold as beef found in Finland 
23.12.2013 EU Improves cooperation between national authorities to address food fraud
(in Finnish)
 
Inquiries:
Senior Officer Annika Nurttila, Evira, tel. +358 (0)50 557 6414 (available 9–10 December)
Senior Inspector Jussi Peusa, Evira, tel. +358 (0)50 379 2862

Exports and imports statistics on honey
Senior Customs Officer Johanna Riikonen, Finnish Customer, tel. +358 (0)40 3321824
Foreign Trade Statistics, tel. +358 (0)295 52335, tilastot@tulli.fi

 

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