On this page
- Standards of identity and grades
- Labelling requirements
- Antimicrobials and veterinary drugs residue levels
Honey is the sweet, viscous liquid produced by bees from the nectar of a variety of plants as well as from secretions of sap-feeding insects. The bees collect the nectar and transform it by combining with specific substances of their own. The nectar is stored in cells in the combs and the bees work to evaporate the moisture until it is between 16% and 18%. Honey, by definition cannot include added ingredients such as colour or sugar and still be called honey (Section B.18.025, B.18.026 and B.18.027 of the Food and Drug Regulations, (FDR)).
Importers are responsible for ensuring the honey they import is safe, truthfully represented, and meets Canadian requirements. Importers are also required to source from foreign suppliers who are manufacturing, preparing, storing, packaging, and labelling the food under conditions that provide the same level of protection as those outlined in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), the Food and Drugs Act and FDR.
Any person who imports organic honey or markets it in Canada as an organic product must be able to demonstrate, at all times, that the product meets the certification requirements and must retain documentation attesting that the product is organic as per Part 13 of the SFCR. Information on organic product requirements can be found on the Organic products web page.
Honey imported for honey bee use could have additional requirements from other Canadian regulations such as the Health of Animals Act and Health of Animals Regulations, where a zoosanitary certification or an import permit may be required. Information on these requirements can be found on the Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Products and By-products: Import Policy Framework – Bee Products web page.
Get additional guidance on honey from the following resources.
Standards of identity and grades
There are grades and standards referred to in the regulations for honey which have been combined into an Inventory of documents incorporated by reference. Imported honey must meet the requirements set out in the following:
- Canadian Standards of Identity Volume 5, Honey
- Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 6, Honey
- Grade Names for Imported Food (refer to item 1 in this table for information relevant to honey)
Imported honey must also meet the packaging and labelling requirements set out in the SFCR. The Industry labelling tool is a food labelling reference for all industry that outlines the requirement for food labelling and advertising.
Labelling requirements for honey products summarize the labelling requirements specific for honey.
Antimicrobials and veterinary drugs residue levels
- Health Canada has both Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and recommended safe Working Residue Levels (WRLs) for a number of veterinary drugs approved for use in other food-producing animals that may be detected in domestic or imported honey
- Working Residue Levels (WRLs) For Antimicrobial Residues in Honey provide guidance to honey producers on residue levels which are deemed not to pose undue risk to human health
- WRLs do not represent approval of additional drugs for use in beekeeping and must not be interpreted as an encouragement of their use.
- Health Canada's website provides a table of Current Lowest Administrative Maximum Residue Limits (AMRLs)/MRLs in Meats and Recommended WRLs in Honey
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