AMS Report to FDA: Stakeholders Want a Federal Standard of Identity for Honey but Do Not Agree on the Content of the Standard

January 19, 2015

By Riëtte van Laack

As we previously reported, the Farm Bill of 2014 tasked the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) with the preparation of a report regarding the need for a federal standard of identity for honey. Without much fanfare, AMS recently published its report to FDA.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the 85 comments to AMS support the development of a standard. However, there is no consensus as to the specific content of the standard. Among other things, the comments differ in whether filtration should be permitted in honey, the maximum hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) (a measure of heat treatment of honey) level for honey, and a requirement for pollen count to identity floral sources, growing region and filtration. Thus, other than confirming that stakeholders see a need for a federal standard of identity, the report provides little direction for FDA.  It therefore appears unlikely that FDA will develop a federal standard for honey in the near future.