F.D.A. proposes labeling guideline for honey

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 8 proposed new guidelines that any honey with added sugar, corn sweeteners or other sweeteners be labeled as a “blend.” Only honey with no added sweeteners may be labeled as pure honey under the proposal.

The proposed changes are intended to “advise the regulated food industry on the proper labeling of honey and honey products to help ensure that honey and honey products are not adulterated or misbranded,” the F.D.A. said.

About 60% of the honey consumed annually in the United States is imported. Domestic production in 2013 totaled 149 million lbs, well shy of the estimated 400 million lbs consumed.

The American Beekeeping Federation and other groups petitioned the F.D.A. to set a standard definition for honey to promote fair trade. Although that request was rejected, the F.D.A. agreed to address the labeling issue, according to a report from Reuters. The F.D.A. has uncovered and detained some imports of honey that contained added sweeteners in recent decades, Reuters said.

The National Honey Board describes honey as “the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or secretions of living parts of plants,” including both nectar (floral) honey and honeydew honey, however, honey is more commonly known as the substance bees collect from the nectar of plants.

There is a 60-day comment period before the F.D.A. issues its final labeling guideline, which would not be mandatory, according to the agency.
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