The True Source Honey Initiative has announced it is launching a Certified True Source Honey Traceability Program starting in 2011.
The new program is designed to certify the origin, food safety and purity of honey available in North America. It will be a voluntary standard for packers, producers, importers and exporters under the True Source Honey program, and will be audited by an international third-party audit firm.
The True Source Honey Initiative was created by Canadian and U.S. honey companies and importers concerned with the issue of illegally sourced honey. Their goal is to call attention to the issue, as well as to support legal, transparent and ethical sourcing. Every honey company is eligible to become members of the program.
According to the Initiative, illegally sourced honey is a significant concern for the industry. Illegal imports create food safety issues, undercuts fair market prices and damages the industry’s reputation for quality and safety.
The group cites a case in September in which 11 individuals and six companies were indicted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Justice for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to illegally import more than $40 million of Chinese honey into the U.S. Some of the honey was adulterated with unapproved antibiotic chloramphenicol, originally used in China in the late 1990s to combat a contagious bacterial epidemic that affected hundreds of thousands of Chinese beehives.
More details of the new initiative will be released at the 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference, a joint convention of the Canadian Honey Council, the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Foundation. The conference takes place Jan. 3 to 9 in Galveston, Texas.