Is Honey suitable for vegetarians?Blog Post 1

What is honey?

The legal definition of honey according to the Honey (England) Regulations 2015, and Annex I of the ‘COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2001/110/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to honey is as follows: 

“honey” means the natural sweet substance produced by Apis mellifera bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature.”

What are the  Legal Frameworks for honey labelling?

FIC 2011

The harmonised EU Food Law for food labelling requirements are taken from Regulation EU No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.

  • the name of the food (“honey”, “baker’s honey” or “filtered honey”);
  • the net quantity expressed in units of mass;
  • the date of minimum durability, “best before” and any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use;
  • if relevant, instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions;
  • the name and the address of the food business operator responsible for the food information (the operator under whose name or business name the honey is marketed, or the importer into the European Union if that operator is not established in the European Union);
  • the identification of the lot to which the product belongs.
  • health and ID mark Retained EU Regulation 853/2004
 EU Directive 2001/100/ EC

There is an EU directive for honey COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2001/110/EC of 20 December 2001 relating to honey.

Names, origin and compositional criteria for honey.

UK National level legal requirements can be found in The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 (

These list the compositional requirements and the reserved descriptions for naming the honey.

Is honey vegetarian?

According to EU legislation honey is considered to be a ‘product of animal origin’.

Can I label my product as suitable for vegetarians?

According to Article 36 (3) of EU FIR 2011 legislation adding statements for ‘suitability for vegetarian and vegan diets; is a voluntary labelling options  but there no other legal guidelines in place for what defines the term ‘vegetarian’.

Food Manufacturers are labelling their food products as suitable for vegetarians when they contain honey.

The vegetarian society criteria for approval to use their logo is that the products should be free from ‘animal- derived’ products and honey is listed amongst prohibited ingredients.

Useful links

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Commission Directive 87/250/EEC, Council Directive 90/496/EEC, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 608/2004Text with EEA relevance (

The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 (

Import of Honey, Royal Jelly and other Apiculture Products for Human Consumption (

Retained EU Regulation 2019/628

Directive 2011/91/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on indications or marks identifying the lot to which a foodstuff belongs Text with EEA relevance (

Importing products of animal origin | Food Standards Agency


Import requirements


When importing honey into the UK there are a number of considerations to be made for successful import.


DEFRA have published a composite products decision tree to help food businesses determine whether Export Health certificates are required for their products.

Composite Products Decision Tree (

Export Health Certificate

An Export Health Certificate (EHC) is a documents that is to be completed by the Food Business that is exporting their product to GB.

The EHC is based on requirements from the  Retained EU Regulation 2019/628. There are specific Health Certificates which must be used dependant on the origin of the honey

GBHC083X from 1 January 2021 from non-EU countries 

GBHC083E from 1 October 2021 from EU countries 

Registered establishments

The UK accepts honey from establishments registered by competent authorities in the country of origin.

Countries where equivalency agreement are in place:

Must be accompanied by the model health certificate provided for in Annex 1 of Retained EU Decision 2015/1901. 

Import or move composite products from the EU and Northern Ireland to Great Britain – GOV.UK (


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