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Putting honey to the test

March 2021

Putting honey to the test – Transcript

Narrator: Honey is oh so sweet. But if sugars are added and not declared on the label, that is a form of food fraud.

Canadians love their honey. In 2019, Canada produced 80 million pounds of honey worth $173 million. And we imported another $45 million worth of honey.

As part of our work to test food for authenticity, the CFIA tests honey samples for added sugars.

Testing done in 2019 and 2020 showed 93% of samples tested were authentic. The rest of the samples tested had added sugars that didn't meet regulatory requirements.

From these latest efforts, we prevented more than 83,000 kilograms of adulterated honey from being sold in Canada.

Jonathan Haché, Chemist, Food Chemistry, Ottawa Laboratory (Carling), CFIA: At CFIA, we have two different types of sampling. Monitoring sampling, which is random; it's used to establish baseline data and to identify areas of risk.

And then we have targeted sampling and that's generally based on a history of non-compliance, on gaps in preventive controls and unusual trading patterns.

So, in general, CFIA will test honey for added sugars, but also residues and contaminants, and also test to make sure they comply with regulations and standards.

For this targeted survey we focused on authenticity. Only pure honey can be labelled and sold as honey in Canada.

Jodi White, Acting Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division, CFIA:

When we do find honey that is not authentic, we have the authority to respond in a number of different ways.

We could seize, detain or remove the product from Canada or it could be thrown out. We can also work with our partners at the Canada Border Services Agency to put in place what we call a border look out for non-compliant products.

In addition, the CFIA could recommend prosecution of companies that sell or import adulterated food products or we could revoke import licences.

CFIA carries out inspection, compliance and enforcement activities to protect consumers from deceptive practices and maintain a fair marketplace for industry.

But consumers also have a role to play. Check labels to see if information may be misleading and contact companies directly to ask questions.

Narrator: Whether you purchase your honey in-store or online, we all have a role to play.

Visit our website to learn more and check out the latest report on our honey testing at inspection.gc.ca/foodfraud.

[End of recording]

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