The existing legislation dates from 2001, European Council directive 2001/112/EC, and Parliament approved the updated legislation proposal by 585 votes to 33, with 11 abstentions.
Having been agreed in principle through talks between the EP and the European Council, the changes now only needs formal approval by the latter.
Rapporteur Andrés Perelló Rodriguez said: “Our priority was to offer consumers accurate information so they know what they are buying. Parliament played a key role in banning added sugar in products sold as juices, and in clarifying the presence of sugars or sweeteners in similar drinks.”
The new rules mean that so-called mixed juices must in future have a product name that reflects contents, according to MEPs.
For instance, a product mixing 90 per cent apple and 10 per cent strawberry juice would need to be called ‘apple and strawberry juice’, where it can currently be labeled as ‘strawberry juice’.
Generic names such as ‘mixed juice’ can also be used, but only if there are three or more fruit sources.
The new regulation also aims to ensure that consumers – particularly diabetics, parents and those on diets – receive clear instructions on the difference between a ‘juice’, a ‘nectar’ and the presence of any sweeteners.
According to the EP: “In future, fruit juices will be definition, not contain any sugars or sweeteners. ‘Nectars’ made from fruit purée with added water, may contain added sugar or sweeteners. ‘No added sugar’ labels will not be allowed on nectars containing artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, to prevent confusion.”
‘Level playing field’
The EP said that measures were also in place to ensure that ‘orange juice’ was properly labeled as such, given that such products (imported from the US and Brazil) often contained up to 10 per cent mandarin juice, which was added for purposes of colour and taste.
“To maintain a level playing field, all imported and EU orange juice will need to be pure to be sold as such, or will include mandarin in the product name,” the EP said.
After the legislation is ratified by the Council, any products placed on the market or labeled before then can still be sold up to three years later; member states will have 18 months to update native laws.
The European Commission proposal for amending Council Directive 2011/112/EC is available here.