New Rules: Fruit Juices, Nectars

The Commission has proposed changes to current EU law on fruit juices and “nectars” which among other things would completely ban sugar from fruit juices and would count tomatoes as a fruit. Differing rules are forseen for “nectars”, which in broad terms are juices to which sweeteners or water have been added.

The changes come in the form of a set of amendments to the existing EU Directive on this subject, namely Council Directive 2001/112/EC, which will now be amended for the second time. The Commission’s proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the Council for adoption. EU Issue Tracker outlines the main changes proposed:

Main Changes:

Incorporation of Codex standards

The proposed changes would ensure that the Codex standard for fruit juices and nectars (which specifically concerns labelling requirements and quality factors in regard to fruit juices and similar commodities) become incorporated into Council Directive 2001/112/EC. It would ensure that the Directive take into account the Code of Practice of the European Fruit Juice Association (which also sets out quality factors for fruit juices made of concentrate).

Clarification of the difference between “juice” and “nectar”

The amended Directive would clarify the difference between fruit juice from concentrate and fruit juice.

A new section on flavours

Include a new section, for the sake of simplification, on flavours in one of the Annexes that outlines how to go about preserving, stabilising, and retaining different fruit flavours.

A ban on sugar in juices

Sugar will be removed from the list of ingredients that are authorised in anything labelled as “juice”. Sugar and honey would still be allowed, to a certain extent, in nectars.

Defining tomatoes as a fruit

Tomatoes will be now be included in a list in one of the Annexes that outlines what fruits can be used for fruit juice production.

Labelling requirements

Requirements for clear indications when a commodity includes both fruit juices from concentrate (where water had been removed from a juice and then added again later) and fruit juices not from concentrate and would have to name the fruits used, respectively. This would also be applied to fruit nectar when it comes either partly or completely from a concentrated product..

Main Changes, Article- by-Article:

Application of Directive 2000/13/EC to certain products (Article 3)

This part of Directive 2000/13/EC on labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs has to be applied to the products defined in Annex 1, subject to a list of conditions that are stipulated, and would, if it were to be amended by the proposed Directive: 
• have its third paragraph altered in order to have a correct reference to the Annex in question (i.e. there would be a reference to part II. 2 in Annex I instead of part II.1 in Annex 1 and lime juice would be included, together with lemon juice, in regard to the conditions laid down in this part of the Annex). 
• have its fourth paragraph changed so that the condition needed for Directive 2000/13/EC to apply would, instead of mentioning ‘fruit juices that have been sweetened by the addition of sugars’, mentions ‘nectars and specific products of Annex III that may be sweetened by the addition of sugars and honey’.

Labelling of concentrated fruit (Article 4)

The labelling of concentrated fruit would need to reflect any added lime juice, lemon juice or acidifying agents as allowed by Regulation No 1333/2008 on food additives instead of the now current emphasis on added sugars and lemon juice as permitted by Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners.

Adaption of Annexes (Article 7)

The proposed Directive would change this Article, which stipulates that the Commission may, through the usage of delegated acts, adapt the Annexes, except of Part I of Annex I, and of Annex II,  which would set out the procedures that the Commission would have to comply with, were it to be given any delegated powers. 

Standing Committee (Article 8)

The proposed Directive would repeal this Article, which sets out rules in regard to the Standing Committee on Foodstuffs assisting the Commission.

Changes to Annexes

Product names, definitions of products and characteristics (Annex 1)

This Annex would, among other things, include a section on ‘water extracted fruit juice’ whereas the second part of the Annex, which focuses on ‘authorized ingredients, treatments and substances’, would include a section on composition.

Definitions of Raw materials (Annex 2)

This Annex, which focuses on the definitions of raw materials (i.e. the basic products in the making of fruit juice, such as fruit, fruit purée, sugars etc), would include a section on flavour.

Special provisions relating to fruit nectar (Annex 4)

This Annex would under the section ‘fruits with juice palatable in the natural state’ also include tomatoes.

Minimum Brix levels for reconstituted fruit juice and reconstituted fruit puree (Annex 5)

The proposed Directive would also introduce a fifth Annex outlining the minimum Brix levels for reconstituted fruit juice and reconstituted fruit puree.   

Next steps

The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the Council for consideration and will probably be somewhat changed before finally adopted into law.