Industry Group is Working on Multiple Fronts
to Protect Honey Purity
March 12, 2019 – Representatives from the entire U.S. honey industry have formed a working group and pledged to cooperate on a range of strategies designed to ensure the purity of honey in the United States. The Honey Integrity Task Force is leading a comprehensive effort to reduce instances of economically motivated adulteration of honey reaching U.S. consumers, and to ensure that honey has the proper country of origin label. The industry watchdog group includes beekeepers, importers, packers, producers and marketing cooperative members along with an organization that specializes in honey supply chain management.
Honey is one of nature’s original products, and it is made by bees with no additives or preservatives of any kind. It is one of many food products that can be vulnerable to what is known as economically motivated adulteration, a term used when unscrupulous players within the honey supply chain use cheaper ingredients to lower their production costs and then sell the product as pure honey.
The Honey Integrity Task Force is now embarking on a number of initiatives designed to strengthen checkpoints in the honey production and supply chain so that consumers can have even greater confidence in the purity of honey products they are purchasing.
Expert opinion on adulteration prevention
In 2018, the Task Force commissioned a study on honey adulteration from UCLA professor Dr. Michael Roberts, a food fraud expert. Dr. Roberts made a series of recommendations to the group on additional steps the industry could take to police itself and minimize the chances that a product labeled as honey will be adulterated with sugar or syrup. Some of the initiatives being pursued now by the Task Force were the result of the recommendations in the Dr. Roberts report.
Food Chemicals Codex Honey testing standard
A Honey Expert Panel has been formed to support the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) including members of the Task Force. The goal of the panel is to develop an international identity standard for honey, with an emphasis on the need for purity and country-of-origin testing, to be included in the FCC. The FCC is published by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve global health through public standards and related programs.
Random Testing of Retail Honey on Shelves
The Task Force has committed to conducting independent tests of honey products sold in U.S. grocery stores. The group will work with independent labs to test for adulteration and plans to make the results of the tests public.
Submitted comments to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Working together as an industry voice, the Task Force submitted comments to the USDA for honey’s Commercial Item Description (CID), which is a product description that concisely describes the most important characteristics of a commercial product. Having a Honey CID will help enforce the highest quality standards.
Met with Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
The Task Force met with CBP as well as Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to identify areas where collaboration could be most valuable, such as collecting global samples for their database and refining the definition of honey.
“It is encouraging to see the entire honey industry working together on the issues that affect us all. Consumers in the U.S. deserve to know that the honey they purchase is pure, and that they can trust the labeling on their favorite honey products. We are committed to the purity and integrity of our industry’s products, and we will do everything in our power to insure the integrity of our supply chain” said Christi Heintz, Director of the Honey Integrity Task Force.