Mis-description of geographical and/or botanical origin was the second most common problem, said attendees at a JRC-organised Round Table Discussion.
Lack of compositional data (chemical fingerprints) of authentic honeys and products used as adulterants was the biggest hurdle for official control purposes.
In the EU, market demand for honey is higher than domestic production and a substantial amount is imported.
Results from a Coordinated Control Plan at EU level revealed at least 14% of samples tested by JRC contained added sugar.
Methods included stable carbon isotope analysis by elemental analysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-IRMS) and EA-IRMS and liquid chromatography coupled to isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA/LC-IRMS).
The event identified gaps in knowledge related to authenticity testing of honey and possibilities to mitigate them as well as ways of detecting fraud in the supply chain and approaches to ensure authenticity.
Stakeholders of the honey production chain and representatives of authorities in Member States as well as academic researchers and the chairman of the UK Honey Association were present.
Selvarani Elahi, Michael Walker and John Warren from the UK Government Chemist team, contributed to the meeting.
The EU Honey Directive aims to preserve its purity as an unprocessed raw agricultural product, excluding modifications to its chemical composition.