By: Brian Bradley
The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is clarifying that honey packers must include “conspicuous and indelible labeling,” in English, naming the country of origin of all imported packed honey products, regardless of whether product labeling uses approved USDA marks or grade statements.
The National Honey Packers and Dealers Association, Western States Honey Packers and Dealers Association, American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation and Sioux Honey Association on Aug. 8, 2016, submitted a request asking AMS to clarify whether country-of-origin labeling (COOL) is required for honey that doesn’t bear official grade marks.
AMS said that a statement in a 2011 final rule that “if the honey is not officially grade labeled, the country of origin labeling is not necessary whether the honey is domestic or foreign” is accurate within the context of a rule, “which only applies to COOL associated with the use of approved official USDA marks or grade statements.”
The final rule was crafted pursuant to language in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Addressing that above-cited language, however, AMS said that it concurs that a 1984 Customs ruling requiring every article of foreign origin or its container to “legibly, permanently and conspicuously” indicate COOL is the law and that the law is in no way invalidated or superseded by additional marking requirements in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“The additional COOL marking required by the Farm Bill applies only to the country of origin labeling statements associated with the existing regulations governing the inspection and grading of processed fruits, vegetables and miscellaneous products, section 52.53, which provides for the use of approved identification marks, and paragraph (h), which describes prohibited uses of approved identification,” AMS said.
The agency said, “In an effort to promote fair competition in the honey industry, this document clarifies that honey packers must include conspicuous and indelible labeling, in English, naming the country of origin of all imported products, regardless of whether the product labeling uses approved USDA marks or grade statements.”