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Change in nutritional labeling may extinguish the honey category and affect 22 million consumers

and 101 thousand producers.

Rio Claro (SP) – After six years of much debate, the new rules for nutritional labeling came into force in October this year, amidst many controversies. One of them is related to the new definition brought by RDC nº 429/20 on “Added Sugars”, which corresponds to all monosaccharides and disaccharides added during food processing, including the fractions of monosaccharides and disaccharides coming from the addition of other sources, such as dextrose, invert sugar, syrups, maltodextrin and other hydrolyzed carbohydrates.

Honey, for example, which has natural sugars, was excluded from the new regulation. However, Anvisa did not exclude the so-called “composite honey” from the new norms, which could mislead the consumer and even extinguish this entire category, raising a great controversy. These products are honey from bees with the addition of natural extracts – without added sugars – such as extracts of propolis, watercress, eucalyptus, ginger, pomegranate, among others, isolated or combined with each other. Its composition is usually approximately 95% honey and 5% extracts. However, Anvisa understands that when honey is added to food, the supplied sugars must be accounted for as total sugars and added sugars. In the case of compound honeys, it will also be mandatory to include the information “high in added sugar”.

For the Brazilian Association of Honey Exporters (Abemel), this interpretation is totally wrong. “Honey is not a product added to incorporate a sweet taste. Honey, in this case, is the product itself, which only receives a flavoring. The only source of sugar in the compound is honey, no other sugar is added to the composition”, Fabricia Soriani, pharmacist and board member of Abemel.

The sector believes that the inclusion of the phrase “HIGH IN ADDED SUGAR” in compound honeys will lead consumers to conclude, based on incorrect information, that “sugar has been added” to the category's products. In addition, those who purchase the product regularly may also feel aggrieved, if they understand that they were unknowingly consuming a sugar not derived directly from honey. Another concern is that the population will stop purchasing these foods from now on, and, as a consequence, they will be withdrawn from the market for good. It is estimated that 22 million consumers and 101 thousand producers in the country, on average, are affected by this.

During the public consultation on the new regulation, Abemel actively participated in the meetings and forwarded its considerations regarding this and other items of conflict, however, the issue of compounds remains without return.

“The legislation has already come into effect, and the sector is concerned. Abemel met with the Department of Inspection of Products of Animal Origin (DIPOA) to bring the discussion and ask for help from technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture to resolve this issue with the General Management of Food at Anvisa (GGALI). We also opened the SEI process with the presentation of concepts and technical support points to eliminate beekeeping compounds from this use of the frontal magnifying glass. There has been no return so far,” says Andresa Berretta, president of Abemel.

About honey

It is a natural product obtained by bees from the transformation of flower nectar into honey. It is made up naturally and predominantly of glucose and fructose, in addition to containing other sugars from nectar, enzymes, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, essential oils and some active compounds from flowers such as phenolics and flavonoids, among others. Honey is a noble product and, despite being an energy source, it is rich in composition and flavors, which go far beyond a mixture of sugars.

Main Changes

For front-of-pack nutrition labeling, which must appear on the front panel of the package, a magnifying glass design was developed to identify high content of three nutrients: added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. The symbol must be applied to the upper part of the front face of the package.

The table also now has only black letters and a white background, in addition, it will be mandatory to declare total and added sugars, energy and nutrient values per 100 g or 100 ml, to help compare products, and the number of portions per pack. The table should be located, in general, close to the list of ingredients and on a continuous surface, not being accepted division. The exception only applies to products in small packages (labeling area less than 100 cm²), where the table can be displayed in covered areas, provided they are accessible.

Deadlines for Adequacy

Products that are already on the market on the date the standard comes into force (10/09/22) will have a twelve-month adaptation period. In turn, those intended exclusively for industrial processing or food services must be adequate on the date of entry into force of the regulation, to ensure that food and beverage manufacturers have access to nutritional information on raw materials and food ingredients. used in their products. Food manufactured by small companies, such as family farmers and micro-entrepreneurs, will have a longer adaptation period: 24 months after the entry into force. Finally, products manufactured by the end of the adaptation period may be marketed until the end of the validity period.

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