FDA guidelines on honey fall short

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New guidelines from Food and Drug Administration won’t do enough to spell out to consumers the difference between pure honey products and those that use added ingredients, we’re told.

In “Counterfeit Cuisine: The Dangers of Rampant Food Fraud” from our May/June 2012 issue, we told you about cheap honey alternatives that often are branded as pure honey. FDA released draft guidelines in April 2014 that require that products that use ingredients in addition to honey must be labeled as a “blend” of honey and other ingredients.

However, Tim Tucker of American Beekeeping Federation says that, although the guidelines will force manufacturers to revise the fine print on their labels, the guidelines won’t prevent manufacturers from misleading consumers by prominently displaying words such as “honey” on the front of blended honey products. He adds his belief that FDA is too understaffed to ensure that honey products would be labeled properly according to the guidelines.

Siobhan DeLancey of FDA says FDA can penalize manufacturers with product seizures or injunctions. However, she didn’t say those measures would be taken against manufacturers who mislabel honey products.

DeLancey didn’t say when final guidelines would go into effect. Regardless, Tucker says he doesn’t expect that much will change from the draft guidelines.