Labelling Requirements for Honey

Important Notice

On December 14, 2016, amendments to nutrition labelling, list of ingredients and food colour requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations came into force. Regulated parties have a five (5) year transition period to meet the new labelling requirements.

Consult the Former – Labelling Requirements for Honey for information on the former requirements.

On this page

Overview

As per the definition of honey (definition), this section summarizes the labelling requirements that apply to imported pure honey, as well as to honey that is manufactured, processed, preserved, graded, packaged or labelled in Canada for interprovincial trade and for export.  In some cases, the labelling requirements would also apply when it is intraprovincially traded.

Honey is subject to the provisions of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), as well as those of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR).

When sold intraprovincially, honey is subject to the labelling requirements under the FDA and FDR, as well as specific requirements of the SFCA and SFCR that apply to prepackaged foods sold in Canada, regardless of the level of trade. Provincial regulations may also have labelling requirements that apply when this product is sold within that province.

The labelling requirements detailed in the following section are specific to honey. Refer to the Industry Labelling Tool for core labelling and voluntary claims and statements requirements that apply to all prepackaged foods.

Common Name – Honey

The common name (definition) must appear on the principal display panel of prepackaged (definition) honey [218(1)(a), SFCR].

For honey (definition) that meets the standard set out in the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 5 – Honey or in Division 18 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), the name appearing in boldface type, but not in italics, in this volume or in the FDR is the prescribed common name for that product that must be used for labelling purposes. This applies whether the honey is prepackaged or not [201, SFCR].

Acceptable common names include "honeydew honey", "Lavender honey", "Rubinia honey", "alfalfa honey", "Banksia menziesii honey", or the name "honey" either alone or accompanied by the name of the blossom (e.g. clover honey), whichever is applicable. The Table of Composition of Specific Kinds of Honey in Volume 6 of the Canadian Grade Compendium includes the specific compositional requirements for the different varieties of honey [10, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey].

If honey is combined with another ingredient, such as a flavour, royal jelly, or other, the common name must describe how the product deviates from the standard (i.e. strawberry flavoured honey, honey with royal jelly, etc.). For all other products, such as royal jelly, the common name must be descriptive of the product.

For more information, including location, legibility and language requirements, refer to Common Name.

List of Ingredients – Honey

When Packaged and Sold as Such

As per section B.01.001(1) of the FDR, honey is considered a sweetening agent as it is listed in Division 18 of the FDR. Although single-ingredient products like honey are exempt from displaying a list of ingredients, if one is voluntarily included on the label, honey packaged and sold as such is exempt from being declared in parentheses following the term “Sugars” in the list of ingredients [B.01.008.3(4)(a), FDR].

For example: consider a prepackaged container of honey for which an ingredients list is voluntarily added. The list of ingredients would show:

Ingredients: Honey

However, if honey is combined with another ingredient such as a flavour or another non-sweetening ingredient, honey will not lose its exemption as per B.01.008.3(4)(a) of the FDR. As long as the honey product uses a modified standardized common name indicating the way in which it does not meet the honey standard and is packaged and sold as such, the honey product would still be considered a sweetening agent and therefore exempted from being grouped in parentheses following the term "Sugars" in the list of ingredients.

For example: consider the ingredient list of a prepackaged lavender-flavoured honey product. The list of ingredients will show:

Ingredients: Honey, Lavender

For more information, refer to Grouping Sugars-based Ingredients.

When Used in Multi-ingredient Foods

Honey falls under the definition of a sugars-based ingredient because it is considered a sweetening agent. As such, when honey is used in multi-ingredient foods such as candies and biscuits, honey is required to be grouped in parentheses following the term "Sugars" in the list of ingredients and placed in descending order relative to the other ingredients in the product [B.01.008.3(1) and (2), FDR].

For more information, refer to Grouping Sugars-based Ingredients.

Net Quantity Declaration – Honey

The label of prepackaged honey must declare the net quantity in metric units, as set out in the document Units of Measurement for the Net Quantity Declaration of Certain Foods which is incorporated by reference into the SFCR [221, 231(a), 232, 244, 275(1), SFCR].

In the case of prepackaged honey, other than consumer prepackaged (definition) honey, that is sold as one unit but that consists of two or more individual packages, the label must declare the number of those packages and the net quantity of each in metric units, as set out in the document Units of Measurement for the Net Quantity Declaration of Certain Foods which is incorporated by reference into the SFCR [243, 275(1)(a), SFCR].

As per the above-referenced document, for honey, the metric net quantity must be shown in units of weight (g, kg).

For consumer prepackaged honey, the minimum type height for the numerical portion of the net quantity declaration is outlined in the table Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade Name and Colour Declarations. See the Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey for additional details on language, legibility and location of this declaration.

For more information, including location, legibility and language requirements, refer to Net Quantity.

Standard Container Sizes for Honey

The following standard container sizes are applicable to consumer prepackaged honey that has been graded according to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations or that is marketed by a licence holder – 150 g or less, 250 g, 375 g, 500 g, 750 g, 1 kg, 1.5 kg, 2 kg, 3 kg or 5 kg [189(1), Table 2 of Schedule 3, SFCR].

The standardized container sizes for prepackaged honey other than consumer prepackaged honey are 7 kg, 15 kg, 30 kg, or in containers larger than 30 kg that are a multiple of 1 kg [189(2), Table 3 of Schedule 3, SFCR].

Name and Principal Place of Business – Honey

Prepackaged honey must include the name and principal place of business of the responsible party. This information must appear on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container [B.01.007(1.1)(a), FDR; 218(1)(b), 218(2), SFCR].

For more information, including manner of declaring, please refer to Name and Principal Place of Business.

Country of Origin – Honey

Canadian Honey

Where honey produced in Canada is graded under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, the container shall be marked with the words "Product of Canada" / "Produit du Canada" or "Canadian Honey" / "Miel canadien" [276, SFCR].

Imported Honey

Where imported honey is repacked (unblended) as consumer prepackaged honey and graded under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, the label shall be marked with the name of the country of origin preceded by the words "Product of" / "produit de" [278, SFCR].

The name of the country of origin preceded by the words "Product of" / "produit de" must also be clearly marked on the label of imported prepackaged honey [277(1), SFCR].

Note: In the SFCR, country of origin is referred to as foreign state (definition) of origin.

Blend of Canadian and Imported Honey

Where imported honey is blended with Canadian honey and is graded under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, the label must be marked with the words "A Blend of Canadian and (naming the source or sources) Honey" / "mélange de miel canadien et de miel (naming the source or sources)" or "A blend of (naming the source or sources) Honey and Canadian Honey" / "mélange de miel (naming the source or sources) et de miel canadien". The sources must be named in descending order of their proportion [279(1), 279(2), SFCR].

See the Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey for details on language, legibility and location of country of origin declarations.

Grade Name for Honey

Please note that all references to the "Compendium" in this section refer to the Canadian Grade Compendium. Volume 6 of the Compendium specifies the requirements for honey and Volume 9 specifies import grade requirements, including for honey.

The grade name (definition) is required on the label of all honey that is exported, imported or traded interprovincially. Honey must meet the requirements set out in the Compendium in respect of the applicable grade and must also be labelled in accordance with the Compendium with the applicable grade name [306(1), SFCR].

Honey that does not meet the requirements of the Regulations with respect to grade and that is sent or conveyed from one province to another, does not need to meet the requirements set out in the Compendium or be labelled in accordance with the Compendium if it is labelled "Substandard" / "sous-régulier" [306(3)(b), SFCR].

Honey that does not meet the requirements of the Regulations with respect to grade and that is exported does not need to meet the requirements set out in the Compendium or be labelled in accordance with the Compendium if the information on the label is not false, misleading or deceptive or is not likely to create an erroneous impression with respect to the quality of the honey [306(3)(c), SFCR].

Licence holders can apply a grade name to and use a grade name in connection with honey if it is identified in their licence and if the honey has been graded by a licence holder [308(1)(d), SFCR].

There are three (3) grade names for honey that is produced in Canada [2, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey]:

  • Canada No. 1
  • Canada No. 2
  • Canada No. 3

Volume 9 of the Canadian Grade Compendium outlines the import grade requirements. Item 1 of the Table of Import Grade Names for Imported Food specifies the Canadian and Import Grade Names for honey. If imported honey meets the requirements of the Compendium for the applicable Canadian grade name in column 2 of the table, it must be labelled with the corresponding import grade name in column 3 [1(1), Compendium, Volume 9 – Import Grade Requirements].

The three (3) grade names for imported honey and blend of imported and Canadian honey are [1, Compendium, Volume 9 – Import Grade Requirements]:

  • No. 1
  • No. 2
  • No. 3

Note: Combining declarations of country of origin and grade is not permitted, e.g. "Product of / Produit du Canada No. 1" is not a permitted statement.

See the Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey for further details on language, legibility and location of grade declarations.

Colour Class Designation for Honey

The colour class (definition) designation is required in close proximity to the grade name on the label of honey that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported. The colour class designation differs for consumer prepackaged honey and prepackaged honey other than consumer prepackaged honey – separate tables are included below.

Colour Classes for Consumer Prepackaged Honey

Item

Colour class

Designation on honey classifier

Darker than

Designation on honey classifier

Not darker than

Reading on Pfund honey grader

More than

Reading on Pfund honey grader

Not more than

1. White White 30 mm
2. Golden White Golden 30 mm 50 mm
3. Amber Golden Amber 50 mm 85 mm
4. Dark Amber   85 mm  

[9, Table 1, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey]

Colour class designations for consumer prepackaged honey must be declared in the size specified in the table Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade Name and Colour Declarations.

Colour Classes for Prepackaged Honey Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey

Item

Colour class

Designation on honey classifier

Darker than

Designation on honey classifier

Not darker than

Reading on Pfund honey grader

More than

Reading on Pfund honey grader

Not more than

1. Extra White Extra White 13 mm
2. White Extra White White 13 mm 30 mm
3. Golden White Golden 30 mm 50 mm
4. Light Amber Golden Amber 50 mm 85 mm
5. Dark Amber Amber Dark 85 mm 114 mm
6. Dark Dark   114 mm  

[9, Table 2, Compendium, Volume 6, Honey]

See the Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey for further details on language, legibility and location of colour class declarations.

Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade and Colour Declarations

The table below applies to consumer prepackaged honey:
Area of principal display surface Minimum height of letters
(inches)
Minimum height of letters
(mm)

Not more than 5 in2 (32 cm2)

1/16

1.6

More than 5 in2 (32 cm2) but not more than 40 in2 (258 cm2)

1/8

3.2

More than 40 in2 (258 cm2) but not more than 100 in2 (645 cm2)

1/4

6.4

More than 100 in2 (645 cm2) but not more than 400 in2 (25.8 dm2)

3/8

9.5

More than 400 in2 (25.8 dm2)

1/2

12.7

[Schedule 6, SFCR]

Other Required Markings

The labels of prepackaged honey that is graded and that is exported, imported or traded interprovincially must carry the following information, where applicable [275(1)(b), 275(2), SFCR]:

  • the word "liquid" / "liquide"
  • the word "creamed" / "en crème" or any other word indicating that the contents are granulated
  • the word "pasteurized" / "pasteurisé"
  • the word "pressed" / "de presse"

For consumer prepackaged honey, the information above must be shown on the principal display panel.

See the Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey for details on language, legibility and location of these markings.

Non-compliant Honey

Any person may send or convey honey from one province to another or import honey that does not meet the requirements of the SFCA and SFCR, except for the requirements for standard container sizes, provided that [18(1), SFCR]:

  • a label that bears the expression "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement" is applied or attached to the honey or accompanies it, and
  • the food is manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, graded, packaged or labelled by a licence holder to bring it into compliance with SFCA and SFCR requirements within three months, or a longer period as specified by the Minister at the person’s written request.

Non-compliant honey that is interprovincially traded may be labelled with the words "Substandard" / "sous-régulier" in lieu of the expression "For Further Preparation Only" / "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement" [18(2)(c), SFCR]. Although required to be brought into compliance with regulatory requirements, this honey labelled as such is not required to meet grade requirements or to be labelled with a grade name [306(3)(b), SFCR]. Refer to Grade Name for Honey for more information.    

Lot Code

For information on the requirement for a lot code or other unique identifier for traceability purposes, consult Traceability-specific labelling requirements.

Please note that recommendations have been made regarding the use of potentially misleading lot codes. For additional information, please refer to the Lot Code section under Manner of Declaring on the Date Markings and Storage Instructions page.

Voluntary Claims and Statements

Manuka Honey

Some manuka honey is sold with statements such as: 15+ NPA (Non-Peroxide Activity), UMF 20+ (Unique Manuka Factor activity) or Bioactive 100+.

The health claims presented on honey in this example when used on their own refer to antibacterial properties and are considered as implied health claims suggesting disease risk reduction benefit, and in some cases, as therapeutic claims. For more information, refer to Health Claims.

However, with accompanying information, certain claims may be acceptable. For example, the statement Bioactive 100+ in conjunction with a quantitative statement about methylglyoxal could be acceptable.

Quantitative Statements on Non-Nutrients

Quantitative statements on non-nutrients such as hydrogen peroxide are allowed on food labels or in advertising.

Refer to Quantitative Statements for additional information.

Raw Honey

Honey can be considered as "raw" when it has not undergone any treatment or process such as heat treatment (other than minimal heating used for the purpose of extraction) or filtering.

To avoid being misleading, specific information which clarifies the meaning of the term "raw" may accompany the claim, such as "unfiltered".

Reference Information

Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Consumer Prepackaged Honey

Requirements Type height Location on label Language

Common name: "Honey"

"Honey" only or accompanied with the name of the blossom

218(1)(a), SFCR

B.01.006(1), FDR

minimum 1.6 mm

210(2), SFCR

principal display panel

218(1)(a), SFCR

B.01.006(1), FDR

English and French

206(1), SFCR

B.01.012, FDR

Net quantity: g or kg

Standard container sizes:

150 g or less, 250 g, 375 g, 500 g, 750 g, 1 kg, 1.5 kg, 2 kg, 3 kg, 5 kg

189(1), 221, 231(a), 232, Item 1, Table 2 of Schedule 3, SFCR

minimum 1.6 mm in boldface type
(Numeric portion – see Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade Name and Colour Declarations)

229(1)(a), 230(b), Schedule 6, SFCR

principal display panel

221, SFCR

English and French, unless bilingual symbols are used

206(1), SFCR

Grade name

Produced in Canada:
Canada No. 1, Canada No. 2, Canada No. 3

(or "Substandard" / "sous-régulier" if grade not met)

Imported, or blend of imported and Canadian:
No. 1, No. 2, No. 3

Note: There is no "Substandard" designation for imported products.

306(1)(c), 306(3)(b), SFCR

2, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey

Compendium, Volume 9 – Import Grade Requirements

minimum 1.6 mm
(see Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade Name and Colour Declarations)

312, Schedule 6, SFCR

principal display panel

312, SFCR

English and French

206(1), SFCR

Colour class

"White", "Golden",
"Amber",  "Dark"

324, SFCR

9, Table 1, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey

minimum 1.6 mm
(see Type Height for Net Quantity, Grade Name and Colour Declarations)

324(a), Schedule 6, SFCR

principal display panel, in close proximity to the grade name

324, SFCR

English and French

206(1), SFCR

Other requirements

"Liquid" as applicable

"Creamed" as applicable - or any other word(s) indicating that the contents are granulated

"Pressed" as applicable

"Pasteurized" as applicable

275(1)(b), SFCR

minimum 1.6 mm

210(2), SFCR

principal display panel

275(2), SFCR

English and French

206(1), SFCR

Name and principal place of business

Person by or for whom the food was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, packaged or labelled

218(1)(b), SFCR

B.01.007(1.1)(a), FDR

minimum 1.6 mm

210(2), SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

218(1)(b), 218(2), SFCR

B.01.005, FDR

English or French

206(1), SFCR

B.01.012(9), FDR

Country of origin

Canadian honey
"Product of Canada" or "Canadian honey"

Imported or packaged from imported honey
"Product of …"

Blend of Canadian and imported honey
"A Blend of Canadian and … Honey" or "A Blend of … Honey and Canadian Honey"

276, 277(1), 278, 279(1), SFCR

minimum 1.6 mm

210(2), SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

245(2), 245(3)(b), SFCR

English and French

206(1), SFCR

Summary Table of Labelling Requirements for Prepackaged Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey

Requirements Type height Location on label Language

Common name: "Honey"

"Honey" only or accompanied with the name of the blossom

218(1)(a), SFCR

B.01.006(1), FDR

clearly and prominently shown, readily discernible and legible

208, SFCR

principal display panel

218(1)(a), SFCR

B.01.006(1), FDR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

B.01.012(11), FDR

Net quantity in kg

Standard container sizes:
7 kg, 15 kg, 30 kg, or in containers larger than 30 kg which are in increments of 1 kg

When sold as one unit of 2 or more individual packages, number of packages with net quantity of each, in metric units

189(2), 275(1)(a), Item 1, Table 3 of Schedule 3, SFCR

clearly and prominently shown, readily discernible and legible

208, SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

245(2), 245(3)(b), SFCR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

B.01.012(11), FDR

Grade name

Produced in Canada:
Canada No. 1, Canada No. 2, Canada No. 3

(or "Substandard" / "sous-régulier" if grade not met)

Imported, or blend of imported and Canadian: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3

Note: There is no "Substandard" designation for imported products

306(1)(c), 306(3)(b), SFCR

2, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey

Compendium, Volume 9 – Import Grade Requirements

minimum 9.5 mm

323(b), SFCR

on at least one side or one end of the container

323(a), SFCR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

Colour class

"Extra White", "White", "Golden", "Light Amber", "Dark Amber", "Dark"

324, SFCR

9, Table 2, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey

minimum 9.5 mm

324(b), SFCR

in close proximity to the grade name, on at least one side or one end of the container

324(b), SFCR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

Other requirements

"Liquid" as applicable

"Creamed" as applicable – or any other word(s) indicating that the contents are granulated

"Pressed" as applicable

"Pasteurized" as applicable

275(1)(b), SFCR

clearly and prominently shown, readily discernible and legible

208, SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

245(2), 245(3)(b), SFCR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

Name and principal place of business

Person by or for whom the food was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, packaged or labelled

218(1)(b), SFCR

B.01.007(1.1)(a), FDR

clearly and prominently shown, readily discernible and legible

208, SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

218(1)(b), 218(2), SFCR

English or French

205(1), SFCR

B.01.012(9), FDR

Country of Origin

Canadian honey
"Product of Canada" or "Canadian honey"

Imported honey
"Product of …"

Blend of Canadian and imported honey
"A Blend of Canadian and … Honey" or "A Blend of … Honey and Canadian Honey"

276, 277(1), 279(1), SFCR

minimum 9.5 mm (for imported honey)

clearly and prominently shown, readily discernible and legible

208, 277(2), SFCR

on any part of the label other than solely on the bottom of the container

245(2), 245(3)(b), SFCR

English and/or French

205(1), SFCR

Definitions

Colour class

Colour class, in respect of honey, means its hue or shade of colour as set out in Table 1 Colour Classes for Consumer Prepackaged Honey and Table 2 Colour Classes for Prepackaged Honey Other than Consumer Prepackaged Honey as determined by the use of a honey classifier or by the use of the Pfund honey grader [1, Compendium, Volume 6 – Honey].

Consumer prepackaged

Consumer prepackaged, in respect of a food, means packaged in a container (definition) in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by an individual — or in which the food may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual — without being repackaged, to be used for non-commercial purposes [1, SFCR].

Container

Container means an outer receptacle or covering that is used or to be used in connection with a food. It includes a wrapper and a confining band but does not include a conveyance or any container that is an integral part of a conveyance [1, SFCR].

Foreign state

Foreign state includes a WTO Member as defined in subsection 2(1) of the World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act [1, SFCR].

Grade name

Under the SFCA, grade name means a prescribed name, mark or designation of a food commodity [2, SFCA].

The SFCR further specify that, for the purposes of this definition, the grade names that are set out in the Compendium and in the Grades Document are prescribed in respect of foods [305, SFCR].

Honey

Honey is the food that meets the standard set out in section B.18.025 of the Food and Drug Regulations and

  • if it is derived mainly from the nectar of blossoms, meets the standard set out in section B.18.026 of the Food and Drug Regulations, or
  • if it is derived from secretions of living plants or from secretions on living plants, meets the standard set out in section B.18.027 of the Food and Drug Regulations [1, Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 5 – Honey]

Person

Person means an individual or an organization as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code [2, FDA; 2, SFCA].

A person may therefore be an individual or an organization, and may include a consumer, a manufacturer, a retailer, an importer, a restaurant, any other commercial or industrial enterprise, an institution such as a school or hospital, and anyone else who sells, uses, or buys a food.

Prepackaged

Prepackaged, in respect of a food, means packaged in a container (definition) in the manner in which the food is ordinarily sold to or used or purchased by a person (definition), and includes consumer prepackaged (definition) [1, SFCR].

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