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Bee positive about your honey!

The EU Directive 2001/110/EC as amended by 2014/63/EU defines honey as “the natural sweet substance, produced by Apis mellifera bees […] ”. The Directive prohibits the addition of any food ingredient other than honey, including food additives. Additionally, it prohibits the removal of any constituent unless any removal has to do with foreign matter and it is unavoidable. Within the European Union, there are approximately 17 million beehives and 600,000 beekeepers. The EU is the second biggest honey producer in the world after China with Romania, Spain and Hungary being the major honey producing countries in the EU.

The Directive clarifies that if the product is to be placed in the market as ‘Honey’, or used in any food product intended for human consumption, it must meet specific analytical composition criteria.

According to the EU Directive as well as the FAO/WHO CODEX Standard -12-1981 revised in 2001, these criteria are:  - Fructose and Glucose  - Sucrose  - Moisture  - Water insoluble content  - Electrical conductivity  - Free acid  - Diastase enzymatic activity  - Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).

The regulations are generally intended to preserve the purity of honey as an unprocessed raw agri-food product with only minor modifications to its initial chemical composition. However, there are some differences between European legislation and revised Codex Alimentarius standards regarding the definition of honey, the country of origin statement, honey of low enzymes and the adoption of Baker’s honey in the EU directive. In addition, several countries have adopted different National quality criteria.

Away from the EU, there are over 2.7 million honey producing colonies in the US alone. US FDA has recently (February 2018) issued a non-binding recommendation relating to “Proper labelling of honey and honey products”, which specifies the definition of honey and honey products and helps to prevent adulteration or mislabelling of such products.

To help ensure honey quality testing is performing to the highest standard, LGC has introduced a new sample to the QFCS food chemistry proficiency testing scheme. Test the essential composition and quality factors in honey including pH, fructose, glucose and sucrose content and more with new sample 801. The analytes and related methods were selected as they are routinely used as part of analysis to determine the quality of honey and meet the regulatory requirements.




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