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Archived - Honey Establishment Inspection Manual
Glossary of Terms

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This page was archived due to the coming into force of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Archived information is provided for reference, research or record-keeping purposes only. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. For current information visit Food.

A substance with a pH of less than 7.0.
According to section B.01.046 of the : food is adulterated if any of the following substances or classes of substances are present therein or have been added thereto:
  1. mineral oil, paraffin wax or petrolatum or any preparation thereof;
  2. coumarin, an extract of tonka beans, the seed of Dipteryx Odorata Willd. or Dipteryx oppositifolia Willd.;
  3. non-nutritive sweetening agents;
  4. cottonseed flour that contains more than four hundred and fifty parts per million of free gossypol;
  5. fatty acids and their salts containing chick-edema factor or other toxic factors;
  6. dihydrosafrole;
  7. isosafrole;
  8. oil of American sassafras from Sassafras albidum (Nutt). Nees;
  9. oil of Brazilian sassafras from Ocolea cymbarum H.B.K.;
  10. oil of camphor sassafrassy from Cinnamomum camphorum Sieb.;
  11. oil of micranthum from Cinnamomum micranthum Hayata;
  12. safrole, or
  13. oil, extract or root of calamus from Acorus calamus L.
  14. nut and nut products that contain more than fifteen parts per billion of aflatoxin;
  15. ethylene thiourea;
  16. chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins; or
  17. cinnamyl anthranilate.

In addition to this, Divison 15 of the Food and Drug Regulations
C.R.C.-c.870/index.html) further explains adulteration and provides maximum residue limits.

A substance with a pH of more than 7.0.
American Foulbrood (AFB)
Contagious disease of bee larvae caused by Paenibacillus larvae. The antibiotic Oxytetracycline is used in both prevention and treating honey bee colonies.
Analysis Unit
The amount of a sampling unit taken by the laboratory to perform the analysis.
A compound produced by a microorganism which interferes with the growth of another organism.
A chemical substance used to interfere with or inhibit the growth of certain microorganisms.
The science and art of raising honey bees for economic benefit or personal enjoyment.
A chemical substance that will kill certain bacterial cells.
An agent that inhibits the growth of bacteria but does not necessarily kill them.
Beeswax is a true wax secreted by glands on the abdomen of worker bees. The wax is produced by the bees at the expense of honey production. It can take 6-8 kilograms of honey to produce 1 kilogram of wax. Beeswax is used in cosmetics, for cold creams, ointments, lotions, lipsticks, candle making and in the bee industry for the replacement of foundation that goes into frames for brood and honey production. It is also used in pharmaceuticals, waterproofing material, polishes, furniture wax, and light lubricants in manufacturing. Beeswax is processed by melting, straining, filtering, centrifuging, bleaching, and solidified in blocks of various sizes for shipping. Beeswax is considered safe for human consumption. (CFIA Animal Health Directive)
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The spores of Clostridium botulinum are not harmful themselves, but in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions), they germinate and the resultant bacteria produce a powerful poison. Botulism spores are hardy organisms that are found throughout the environment, particularly in soil. Scientists have found botulism spores in dust, raw vegetables, potato skin, corn syrup, and honey.

There are three main kinds of botulism:

  1. Foodborne botulism - caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin.
  2. Wound botulism - caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum.
  3. Infant botulism - caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the infant's intestine and release toxin.
    (Canadian Honey Council)

Brix Scale
A unit of measure used by refractometers to measure sugar concentrations in solution. Units are % sugar.
Immature or developing stages of bees: includes eggs, larvae, and pupae. (Beekeeping in Western Canada)
An apparently healthy person who harbors in or on the body, pathogenic organisms, and who may spread those pathogens to susceptible people.
Free of visible soil or debris.
The physical removal of soil or debris from a surface or contaminated area.
The wax cellular structure that bees use for restraining their brood or as a storage for pollen and honey. Fine particles of comb in suspension are grade defects and contribute to lack of clarity in filtered style honey. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
Comb Honey
Honey stored by bees in cells of freshly built broodless comb, which is sold in sealed whole comb or sections of comb. (Codex Standard 12-1981 Rev. 2 2001)
The state of conformity with the law. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement and Compliance Policy)
Compliance Action
A regulatory control measure to remove from the market or prevent the marketing of a product known to be in contravention of legislation. The compliance action is always directed at a specific source (e.g. the legally responsible party).
Compliance Sampling
The sampling approach as part of compliance testing is referred to as in-depth sampling and follows Codex Alimentarius specifications. Samples are given top priority with respect to testing and must be verified by prescribed confirmatory techniques prior to lot disposition. The establishment of a chain of custody of the sample is essential if legal proceedings are expected to ensue (CFIA Sampling Plans).
To add foreign and unwanted matter to an object or to the environment.
According to the Honey Regulations contains a chemical, drug, food additive, heavy metal, industrial pollutant, ingredient, medicine, microbe, pesticide, poison, toxin or any other substance not permitted by, or in excess of the limits prescribed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Food and Drugs Act, and the Pest Control Products Act.
Creamed Honey
As an alternative to liquid honey, techniques have been developed to guide the natural crystallization of honey towards completely crystallized, stable and homogeneous end product, which has a pleasant appearance, creamy consistency and is well received by most consumers. The "creaming" process relies on, and enhances, honey's natural tendency to crystallize. Utilizing this feature creates a product with a very small crystal size (less than 25 microns - 0.025mm), so small that the product appears smooth and silky. The interlocking nature of these crystals gives the product its smooth, thick, spreadable texture. (Value Added Products from Beekeeping by R. Krell, FAO AGRICULTURAL SERVICES BULLETIN No. 124.)
The transfer of microorganisms, foreign material and any other unwanted material from one food to another through a non food surface such as equipment, utensils or human hands
Crystallized Honey
Honey that is granulated or crystallized, irrespective of whether candied, fondant, creamed or spread type. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
Crystallization results from the formation of monohydrate glucose crystals, which vary in number, shape, dimension and quality with the honey composition and storage conditions. The lower the water and the higher the glucose content of honey, the faster the crystallization. Temperature is important, since above 25°C and below 5°C, virtually no crystallization occurs. The optimum temperature for fast crystallization is around 14°C. In addition, the presence of solid particles (e.g. pollen grains) and slow stirring will result in quicker crystallization. Usually, slow crystallization produces bigger and more irregular crystals. During crystallization water is released. Consequently, the water content of the liquid phase increases and with it the risk of fermentation. Thus, partially crystallized honey may present preservation problems, which is why controlled and complete crystallization is often induced deliberately. (Value Added Products from Beekeeping by R. Krell,
A chemical cleanser similar to soap but of differing chemical nature.
An enzyme commonly found in honey. For further information see Enzymes and Gothe Scale.
A condition in which bodily health is impaired; sickness, illness.
To remove potentially pathogenic microorganisms from an object or environment.
Drained Honey
Honey which is obtained by draining decapped broodless combs.
The action taken by the Agency, through a prosecution or an administrative monetary penalty, where applicable, to obtain compliance.(Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement and Compliance Policy)
Enforcement Action
Enforcement actions include: Warnings; Directions by Inspectors; Prosecutions; Administrative Monetary Penalties; Removal of Imports from Canada; Restrict or Prohibit the Movement of Products; Seizure and Detention of Products or Things; Issuance of Quarantine Notices; Forfeiture of Seized or Unclaimed Products or Things; Disposal of Products; Issuance of Recall Orders Pursuant to Section 19 of the CFIA Act; Application for Injunctions Pursuant to Section 18 of the CFIA Act, Refusal to Issue or Renew Licences, Registrations or Permits; Suspension, Revocation or Cancellation of Licences, Registrations or Permits.(Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement and Compliance Policy)
Enzymes are protein in nature and catalyze or speed up reactions but do not normally become an integral part of the reaction itself. The major enzymes present in honey are invertase (that converts sucrose into glucose and fructose), amylase (diastase - hydrolyses starch to dextrins and/or sugars) and glucose oxidase (that produces gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide from glucose in diluted honey). Others, including catalase (converts peroxide to water and oxygen) and acid phosphatase, may also be present. (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
A larger than usual number of cases of a particular infectious disease in one locality.
Extracted Honey
Honey that has been obtained by centrifuging decapped broodless combs. (Codex Standard 12-1981 Rev. 2 2001)

Honey that has been separated from the comb by centrifugal force, gravity, straining or by other means. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted  Honey May 23, 1985:

Fermentation in honey is caused by osmophilic yeasts. It will not occur in honey that has a carbohydrate content greater than (>) 83%, a moisture content less than (<) 17.1%, a storage temperature less than (<) 11°C (52 °F) or that has been heat-treated. Properly extracted, treated and stored honey should not ferment. (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
Honey which has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985:
Floral Source
The flower from which the bees gather nectar to make honey (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985). Examples include clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, canola, sunflower etc. The color and flavor of honey may vary depending on the source of the nectar. (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
"Food" includes any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as for human beings, chewing gum, and any ingredient that may be mixed with food for any purpose whatever; As per section 2 (Interpretation) of the (Food and Drug Regulations)
Food Carrier
Any vehicle including trucks, tanks, tankers and totes used for the transportation of food.
Four assembled pieces of wood designed to hold comb. It consists of one top bar, one bottom bar and two end bars. (Beekeeping in Western Canada)
A substance that kills germs and certain pathogenic organisms.
Gothe Scale
A scale used to measure the diastase level in honey. This enzyme is responsible for converting starch to dextrins and sugars and is introduced into honey by the bees. This number expresses the diastase activity as the number of ml of a 1 percent (%) starch solution hydrolysed by the enzyme in 1g of honey in 1 hour at 40°C. Diastase is heat sensitive the level in honey is used as an indicator of overheating. (Chemical Food Analysis - A Practical Manual -
University of Queensland Publication - 2003 - PDF (262 kb)
The initial formation of crystals in honey. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
The potential to cause harm - Hazards can be biological, chemical or physical. (Food Safety Enhancement Program Manual - Glossary of Terms)
Heat Treatment / Pasteurization
Honey is heat treated to prevent unwanted fermentation by osmophilic yeasts and followed by rapid cooling to 54°C (130°F). Other effective treatments include heating honey to 60°C (140°F) for 30 minutes or 71°C (160°F) for one minute or some straight line gradient between those two temperatures. (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in the honey comb to ripen and mature.

Honey is produced by the bees from nectar of a variety of plants. The bees collect the nectar into their honey stomach and take it back to the colony. In the process of collecting and taking it to the colony, some enzymes are added. The nectar is stored in cells in the combs and the bees work to evaporate the moisture until it is between 16-18%. At this stage it is honey and because of its very high sugar content (>80%) it keeps very well. (CFIA Animal Health Bulletin)

Honey Classifier
An instrument used to measure the hue or shade of colour of honey. The classifier approved for use by the President is the is the Lovibond 2000+ with standardized lighting unit and the colour disc - (Canadian Honey Colour (Pfund Equivalents) of 8-114)
Honeydew Honey
Honey which comes mainly from excretions of plant sucking insects (Hemiptera) on the living parts of plants or secretions of living parts of plants.
A plant or animal harboring another as a parasite or as an infectious agent.
Practices necessary for establishing and maintaining good health and sanitation.
Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)
Hydroxymethylfurfural (5-hydroxymethyl-2 furalde-hyde), also called HMF, is a compound that results from the breakdown of simple sugars (such as glucose or fructose) at pH 5 or lower during storage or during heating. HMF occurs naturally in honey especially in warm climates. Its presence is considered the main indicator of honey deterioration and overheating. (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
Infant Botulism
Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the infant's intestine and release toxin. In adults, the spores ingested from food are digested before they can form a toxin. However the intestine of an infant under one year of age is sometimes not mature enough to digest these spores. In rare cases the botulism spores can germinate in the infant's intestine and produce a toxin which can make the baby sick. For this reason it is recommend that infants under one year of age are not fed honey. Pasteurization of honey is not sufficient to kill the botulism spores. (Canadian Honey Council)
Illness that occurs as a result of consumption of food or water contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. The viable cells, even if present in small numbers, have the potential to establish and multiply in the digestive tract causing illness.
Occupation or invasion by parasites other than bacteria.
Contamination of food with toxins produced by microorganisms growing in or on it.
Liquid Honey
Honey that is free from visible crystals. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985:
A "lot" may be defined as a collection of agricultural food products of the same size, type and style that have been manufactured and packed in containers of the same size under essentially the same conditions and which is identified by the establishment/regulated party as a "lot" for the purposes of sampling.
Low Acid Food
A food, where any component of the food has a pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85.
An alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and water. (National Honey Board - Making Mead: The Art and Science)
See Varroa and Tracheal mites
Data gathering to provide information about predefined sampling populations and to identify potential problems for surveillance activities.
Moulds are filamentous fungi. They form a true mycelium composed of many filaments which may or may not have crossed walls. Asexual and sexual spores are produced, sometimes in specialized fruiting bodies. Non -xerophilic moulds are inhibited at 0.80 Aw and xerophilic moulds at 0.60 Aw. (Essentials of the Microbiology of Food)
A small colony of bees often used in queen rearing or mating or to increase colony numbers. (Beekeeping in Western Canada)
Medium-sized carbohydrates that contain more than three simple sugar sub-units, often made of monosaccharides and disaccharides. Oligosaccharides are sometimes referred to as "higher sugars". (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
An individual living thing.
Osmophilic Yeasts
Yeasts preferring a reduced water activity (Aw 0.65 to 0.60) for growth. Sugar tolerant yeasts. This type of yeast should not be found in heat treated honey. ( Agriculture Canada - A History of the Bacteriology Division)
An organism that derives its nourishment from a living plant or animal host and does not contribute to the host's well-being but does not necessarily cause disease.
A microorganism capable of producing disease when it enters the human or animal body.
Pfund Honey Colour Grader
Is an instrument used to determine the colour classification of honey. The colour density of a sample of the product being tested is compared to the colour density of a standard amber wedge. The reading is then made on the millimetre scale which is calibrated in special divisions to indicate standard colour grades for honey. (Koehler Instrument Company)
A logarithmic measurement of acidity and alkalinity due to hydrogen and hydroxyl ion concentration on a scale from 0 to 14, where 0 is most acid, 7 is neutral and 14 is most alkaline.
Pollen is the male germ plasm of plants which contains proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. It is collected by the bees from a variety of plants at different times of the year. It is the only protein source collected by bees for feeding their brood. Beekeepers collect the pollen every 2-3 days and freeze it or dry and clean before storage. Collected pollen is used for bee feeding, human consumption and pollination of plants. (CFIA Animal Health Bulletin)
Pollen Grains
The granular, dust-like microspores that bees gather from flowers. Pollen grains in suspension contribute to the lack of clarity in filtered style honey. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
The accumulation of foreign unwanted matter in an environment in which it becomes a nuisance or a danger to the health of the environment.
Suitable or safe for drinking.
Pressed Honey
Honey which is obtained from pressing broodless combs. (Codex Standard 12-1981 Rev. 2 2001)
The gum that is gathered by bees from trees and other vegetation. It contains waxes, resins, balsams, oils and pollen. Bees use it to reduce the beehive entrance size and encase foreign material. It may vary in colour from light yellow to dark brown. It may cause staining of the comb or frame and may be found in extracted honey. It is used in alternate medicine because of its antimicrobial properties (ointments creams etc.). (CFIA Animal Health Bulletin) (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
An optical instrument used to measure substances dissolved in water. It works using the principal of light reflection through liquids. As light passes from air into water it slows down, creating the phenomenon which gives a bent look to objects partly submerged in water. The more dissolved solids in water the slower that light travels through it and more pronounced the bending effect on light. Refractometers measure the amount of dissolved solids by passing light through a sample and showing the refracted angle on a scale displayed within the refractometer's eyepiece. (Forestry Suppliers Inc.)
The operating principal is similar to a refractometer above but honey refractometers measure the percent (%) of moisture by passing light through a sample and showing the refracted angle on a scale displayed within the refractometer's eyepiece. The temperature compensation factor, as per gauge on the outside of the refractometer, must be taken into consideration for accurate moisture readings. (Atago Co. Ltd. Tokyo Japan)
Refractive Index
The moisture, or conversely the soluble solids in honey, is determined by measuring the refractive index of honey using a refractometer. Since the refractive index of honey is different from that of a sucrose solution at the same concentration, a special moisture chart must be used. This chart is found in AOAC Method 969.38 (Analytical Methods). Using the "Brix" or "Sucrose" scale will provide inaccurate values for honey. (Grading Chapter of the Product Inspection Manual for scale) (National Honey Board - Honey - A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener)
Regulated Party
A registered establishment or importer which falls under the scope of the Honey Regulations.
Ripe Honey
Honey from which bees have evaporated sufficient moisture so that it contains no more than 17.8% water. (Beekeeping in Western Canada:(Beekeeping in Western Canada)
Royal Jelly
Royal Jelly is secreted by glands in the heads of worker bees and is fed to queens throughout their larval and adult lives, to young workers and drone larvae. It is high in protein and is synthesized during the digestion of pollen. It can be collected and sealed in small vials or freeze dried. It is used as a health food for its therapeutic value. (CFIA Animal Health Bulletin)
Is represented by one sample number and may consist of one or more sample units or subsamples.
Sample Unit
A consumer size container of a product that usually consists of a minimum of 100g. It is often referred to as a sub-sample.
Free from disease causing microorganisms and other harmful substances.
The creation and maintenance of conditions favourable to good health and conditions free from disease.
Treatment by heat or chemicals to reduce the number of microorganisms present.
Seasonal Operator
Refers to those establishments who extract, prepare or package honey 4 months or less per calendar year.
A compound of fatty acids and alkalis that has cleaning properties.
An inactive, resistant, resting or reproductive body that can produce another vegetative individual under favourable conditions.
Honey that has been strained to the extent that most of the particles, including comb, propolis, or other defects normally found in honey, have been removed. Grains of pollen, small air bubbles, and very fine particles would not normally be removed. (United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey May 23, 1985 - PDF (62 kb))
Free from all living microorganisms.
Temporary holding area for honey between extractor and tank.(Beekeeping in Western Canada)
A hive box or hive body with or without frames. (Beekeeping in Western Canada)
To contaminate with undesirable microorganisms or chemical substances.
A chemical produced by living organisms which is poisonous to humans and animals.
Tracheal Mite
(Acarapis woodi)
The tracheal mite is an internal parasite. It spends its entire life on adult honey bees and once well established, it moves into the main thoracic tracheae. Colonies affected by tracheal mites are weaker and generally have higher winter losses. Treatment is either formic acid, oxalic acid or menthol.
Varroa Mite
(Varroa destructor)
The varroa mite is an external parasite that infests both brood and adult honey bees. Colonies affected by varroa mites are weaker and generally have higher winter losses. Treatment is formic acid, oxalic acid, menthol or fluvalinate.
Ultramicroscopic infectious agent that replicates itself only within cells of living hosts. Many viruses are pathogenic.
Belong to the kingdom of the Fungi and are usually unicellular organisms (10 - 20 microns in diameter). They usually multiply by producing budding cells that eventually break off, although they may form spores by a meiotic mechanism, within a very simple fruiting body - usually a single cell (Essentials of the Microbiology of Food).
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