Cri, are you really writing an article about honey labels? Was it really needed? Well, yep, and to be honest, I have also many things to tell about it! Did you know that there are some compulsory info that must be mentioned on the labels? General rules exist about food labels, here we speak in particular about honey. There are some details to be specified and if the producer does not care about it, it’s illegal. There are both national and European laws about this all. I know that you want to be an aware consumer and you want to know these things too…keep on reading and then next time you’ll have a honeypot in your hands, pay attention at these details!
Is it compulsory to put on honey labels?
Let´s start with specifying that if you harvest honey for yourself, your family and some friends, labels are not compulsory. However, if you start to harvest seriously honey, then yes, labels are required. Any label format is fine, but it must mention some pieces of info. Some are compulsory, some are optional.
Some general rules
A well done label, in compliance with the beekeeper job, the consumer and the product must absolutely fulfill some criteria. As pointed out by the expert Lucia Piana during one of her webinars about honey, what honey labels mentions must be first of all:
- True: what I write must be true – Period, done.
- Not ambiguous: if we write Honey from the moutains, this is not ok because it is too vague. You can specify a city, a river, a mountain or otherwise nothing.
- Not mentioning a feature that it has in common with any other honey (for example, we shouldn’t mention “honey from the bees“, moreover, it wouldn’t make sense since honey does come from the bees.
Which are the compulsory features on honey labels?
Now we get to the point – Here the MUSTs of a honey label:
- The country of origin, that is where it was harvested. It can be by mentioning the name of the country (Germany) or its related adjective (German)
- The word honey: there must be the name of the product, so in this case: honey. Nevertheless, if we add anything else, such as almonds and for example on the honey labels we write almond honey, this is not ok. Why? Because adding any other ingredient creates something different than honey.
- Net weight
- Expiry date or, better to say, Date of minimum durability: this date states an estimation about by which date you should eat the honey, because if you store it properly, it keeps its features untouched till that date for sure. Remember always, honey does not really expire!
- Name or legal entity of the distributor (that can be different from the producer, that is not strictly needed instead)
- Batch number: it’s generally a code made by numbers and letters, chosen by the producer to track it. Nevertheless, if at each batch the date of minimum durability changes, there is not strictly need to write a batch number.
And among the optional info of honey labels?
Among the optional info, for example, its origin. This means that we don´t strictly have to mention a specific local origin (such as, honey from the Elbe valley), or others such bio beekeeping. It’s neither compulsory to specify if a honey is multiflora or not. Speaking of this, maybe now you are wondering: but when I buy acacia honey, how can the beekeeper know that it’s right from acacia?
How do beekeepers get uniflora honey?
Beekeepers have previously put their hives among many acacia plants when they’re blooming. They will take away the honeyboxes when this period has finished. Of course, there will be not only acacia nectar, but something else too. At that point an analysis at the laboratory would be needed, so as to investigate on the organoleptic, physical, chemical and microscopic features of honey.
As an alternative, just to be sure, you can simply write ‘multi-flora’ honey, also because there are no limitations in numbers for a multi-flora honey composition. What is important is not to write on honey labels multi-flora with prevalence of acacia, for example, without a previous reliable check. Otherwise it’s misleading and you could get a fine. If you want to officially mention it on a label, you must have verified it at the laboratory, otherwise better not to specify.
Another useful piece of info, especially when we speak about multi-flora honey? To give an indirect idea of which flowers we are speaking about in general, we can specify if we are speaking of the Summer or Spring harvest.
Now let’s try an exercise – take a honeypot and let us know, are all the compulsory features mentioned? Is there anything more specified? In this case, what?
We´re looking forward to your reply… and next week we are going to tell you the story of our labels 🙂