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"Honey” is defined in Chapter 3715 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to mean, “The nectar and saccharine exudation of plants that has been gathered, modified, and stored in a honeycomb by honey bees.

Does a Honey producer/beekeeper need to acquire a license/registration to process and package their products?

A beekeeper that jars honey, when a minimum of 75% of the honey is from their own hives, is exempt from licensing, registration and mandatory inspection (ORC 3717.021). Upon request, a producer can receive a voluntary inspection, contact: Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety; 614-728-6250.

Processors who do not comply with the small honey processor exemption are subject to registration and inspection as a food processing establishment by the Division of Food Safety.

Is Honey a cottage food?

Honey is not exempt as a cottage food; it is, however, exempt under ORC 3715.021, as is maple syrup and sorghum.

Flavored honey made by a beekeeper exempt under ORC 3717.021 is a cottage food and must comply with the Cottage Food rules (Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 901:3-20). Cottage Food Production Operations are exempt from inspection and licensing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  Cottage Food products may only be sold in Ohio.

If a complaint is made, the honey kitchen may be inspected by Food Safety Officials. 

What are the requirements for the labeling of Honey jars or containers?

Regardless of whether or not honey is sold from home, a market or elsewhere, it must have a label (including honey products gifted or traded) that includes the following:

  1. Statement of Identity - the common or usual name of the food product;
  2. Net Quantity of Contents - If sold ON SITE the label must declare the net weight in the U.S. Customary System (ounces), but does not have to have the weight in metric (grams)  Note:  If sold OFF SITE it must have both (ounces and grams).
  3. Ingredient List - honey is a single ingredient food; an Ingredient List is not required;
  4. Statement of Responsibility - the name and address of the business.

The label should be glued or “secured”, however if the jars/containers are an unusual shape and sold for a special occasion, and the label cannot be affixed, it can be attached as a card.

Note: If nutrient content claims (i.e. low fat, salt free, etc.) or health claims (i.e. may reduce heart disease) are made, the product must bear all required nutritional information in the form of the Nutrition Facts panel. All labeling components are to comply with 21 CFR Part 101, Food Labeling.

The FDA Food Labeling Guide is an excellent resource of the proper labeling of food products.

Additional labeling information on honey can be found in the FDA’s Guidance for Industry: Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products

Flavored honey from exempt producers must be labeled according to the Labeling Requirements for Cottage Foods

What are the Tolerance Levels for miticides and antibiotics?

The detection of antibiotics in any amount in any sample of honey or beeswax shall render the honey or beeswax as adulterated.  Coumaphos shall not exceed 100 parts per billion in any sample of honey; 100 parts per million in any sample of beeswax.

What are the requirements for new and reused jar/container sanitation?

If jars for honey are to be reused they must be washed and sanitized. Closures shall not be reused.  All packaging shall be free from rust on food contact surfaces and not contain any substances or be made from any material which could damage either the color or flavor of the honey.

Questions? Contact ODA Division of Food Safety; 1-800-282-1955 Ext 4366; email: foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov