Information for industry - Honey authenticity requirements in Canada
Canada's regulatory requirements for honey
Honey sold in Canada must comply with the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR).
As per these requirements, all food sold in Canada must be safe for consumption, truthfully represented and labelled as required by this legislation. Imported or inter-provincially traded products that are represented or sold as honey are also subject to the federal standard for honey in section B.18.025 of the FDR, which states, in part:
B.18.025 [S]. Honey shall be the food produced by honey bees and derived from
- the nectar of blossoms,
- secretions of living plants, or
- secretions on living plants
In Canada, adding foreign sugars such as corn, rice or cane sugar syrup to food represented as honey is considered adulteration. Adulterated honey is not authentic and cannot be sold as honey in Canada. Learn more about these and other regulatory requirements for honey.
Obligations of industry
Regulated parties including importers, domestic producers, packers, distributers and retailers are responsible for ensuring the above requirements are met.
Under the SFCR, licence holders must maintain a written preventive control plan. This preventive control plan must include measures to ensure the safety of the food as well as ensuring that the food is not represented in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive. Measures must also be in place to ensure compliance with prescribed compositional standards.
Control measures may include supply chain controls whereby industry members obtain assurance from their suppliers, or through their own analytical efforts, that the products they receive and offer for sale meet all regulatory requirements.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) offers guidance to industry on labelling requirements for honey products and on preparing a Preventive Control Plan.
Surveillance activities of CFIA
The CFIA verifies these obligations are being met through various activities including preventive control inspections, commodity inspections and sampling activities. The CFIA has a testing program to analyse for adulterants such as foreign sugars and/or syrup added to honey. The agency also monitors honey for veterinary drug residues, chemical contaminants, and compliance with specifications of the standard, such as moisture content.
The CFIA uses 2 techniques to detect adulteration of honey with foreign sugars:
- Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis (SIRA), which detects adulteration with C4 sugars such as sugar cane and corn syrup
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which detects adulteration with C4 sugars as well as C3 sugars from sources such as rice, beets, barley and wheat
Samples are assessed as unsatisfactory if either SIRA or NMR testing shows the presence of added sugars in the honey.
The CFIA publishes findings of its targeted surveillance activities to verify if honey samples were authentic and not adulterated with foreign sugars; available in the reports section of its food fraud web page.
Industry plays an important role in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements to protect consumers from deception and to achieve a fair marketplace. The CFIA encourages all parties that are aware of deceptive or fraudulent practices to report these to the CFIA.
Penalties for non-compliance
Industry is reminded that failure to comply with the above requirements with respect to the importation, distribution, or sale of honey will be considered a potential contravention of the FDA and the SFCA.
The CFIA has a variety of control and enforcement measures at its disposition, including product detention, disposal, order to remove from Canada, administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) and prosecution. Enforcement actions in cases of non-compliance take into consideration the harm caused, the compliance history of the regulated party, and whether there was intent to violate federal requirements. Additionally, under the SFCR, the CFIA has the ability to suspend or cancel a licence.
- Date modified: