Honey is both delicious and versatile. This sticky treat can be used in anything from desserts to tea to dinner. Like all ingestible items though, it is subject to regulations. Honey labeling requirements depend on federal and state laws, so it’s important to be aware of the guidelines for where you are.
The Importance of a Good Label
When you think about your label, you have to think chiefly about the product found inside. Honey is considered a miracle of nature. Bees collect pollen and produce this vicious, sugary sauce in return. Wholesome and unprocessed, this food is purchased by many as the anecdote to high fructose corn syrup.
Labels can be instrumental in attracting people to buy your honey over the products of your competitors. However, you might not be able to sell to a store or display your wares at a farmer’s market if you don’t have the right information on the label.
Federal Food Labeling Requirements
If you look into the federal guidelines, you won’t see honey specifically named. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) is an umbrella that encompasses all consumer commodities.
Legislation related to labeling is drawn from general food labeling requirements. This includes:
Weight of honey (in ounces and grams)
The name and address of the producer
Should a producer choose not to list their physical address, they may include a website where their address can be found. Small producers may not have to give very much information, but there does need to be some way to contact the people behind the product.
State Requirements and Recommendations
Depending on the state (and likely the number of honey producers in question), food requirements can vary widely. Some states will make rules based on sales or employee numbers.
Others might be more concerned with how honey is described. For instance, let’s say that buckwheat honey specifically has become extraordinarily popular in an area, and producers are able to sell it for triple the price due to the demand.
If people try to sell their dandelion honey with this group, people might not realize that they’re being sold a different honey in place of what they’re really looking for. So even if the label isn’t outright lying about the contents, it may be misleading. Proper labeling can correct these assumptions and ensure that consumers are getting what they pay for.
States may also make recommendations based on events in the region. For instance, some states will recommend warning against giving infants (a year or younger) honey due to infant botulism. Or they might set additional limits on exactly what ‘organic’ means to the state. Understanding your state’s specific rules and suggestions can help you plan your label, so all the necessary information can be included. This is not just important to avoid fines from regulators, it can be equally important to avoid being sued by the customer.
What Your Brand Has to Say
The brand of a honey producer can have a lot to say about anything from the quality of the product to the values of the people who make it. Some companies might opt on the side of more information so people can tell exactly what they’re buying.
For instance, they might include the source of the honey, even if they don’t have to. Clover honey and dandelion honey won’t taste the same because they’re made from different pollen. Some people ascribe different healing abilities to different types of honey, so it’s important to be honest with customers to appeal to their buying sensibilities. Without making any health claims, you can even include historical or folklore information about your specific brand of honey. Even hybrid honey might want to specify the proportions of each kind of pollen.
Company owners might also consider giving the information of the packer, distributor, or quality checker. This can be a particularly effective strategy for smaller brands, as it gives the customer a sense of familiarity. They may not know who the person is, but the fact that their name and address is included heightens the purchase to the next level. If there’s a question or concern about the contents of the bottle, there are real people waiting to answer.
Finding the Right Strategy
A good label printer will understand not just the requirements for your label, but also the brand values you're trying to convey to the customer. Make sure you find a partner that can handle all your requirements so you can settle on a strategy that works.