Honey mixed with sugar must be labeled as a "blend" rather than as just "honey," according to FDA proposed guidelines that came out on Tuesday.
Americans consume more than 400 million pounds of honey each year, according to U.S. government and industry estimates. But the lion's share, 251 million pounds, is imported, and often not pure honey.
- The FDA's review follows a petition from the American Beekeeping Federation and several other related groups seeking a standard U.S. definition for the natural sweetener to promote fair trade. While the agency rejected their request, it did agree to propose guidelines for labeling that disallow blends of honey with other substances to lay claim to the name "honey."
The crux of the issue comes down to this question and answer:
If a food consists of honey and a sweetener, such as sugar or corn syrup, can it be labeled as “honey”?
No, a product consisting of honey and a sweetener cannot be labeled with the common or usual name “honey.” The food is a blend or a mixture of honey and another sweetener. You must sufficiently describe the name of the food on the label to distinguish it from simply “honey” (21 CFR 102.5(a)).
Manufacturers have 60 days to comment on the proposal, which can be viewed here, before final guidelines are issued. This proposal falls short of what the American Beekeeping Federation and similar groups called for, though it does address the question of misbranding and adulteration.