2015 Honey Monitoring Program Results Summary
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conducts a Honey Monitoring Program each year to monitor compliance of Ontario produced honey with Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 119/11, Produce, Honey and Maple Products of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.
In 2015, Ministry Inspectors collected 150 honey samples from 143 different honey operations in Ontario. All samples were produced during the 2015 season. Samples were randomly collected from retail and farm gate locations across the province.
All 150 samples were analysed for the presence of:
When levels of this substance are detected, they are compared to the allowable limits set by either Health Canada or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Of the 150 samples tested, 146 samples were compliant with the allowable limits. Three samples had lead levels above the allowable level and one sample was positive for Tetracycline. A summary of the laboratory results is provided in Table 1.
When lead or drug levels exceeded the allowable limit, the producer and CFIA were immediately notified. The CFIA is responsible for conducting risk assessments of the products, and determining if a recall is required. No public recalls were issued in 2015 as a result of this sampling.
The Ministry responds by conducting additional sampling, on-site visits, and providing education and information to the producer to prevent recurrence.
Table 1: Summary of 2015 Laboratory Results
1 - Sulfadiazine, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfadoxine, Sulfamerazine,
Sulfamethazine, Sulfamethoxazole, Sulfanilamide, Sulfaquinoxaline
Ministry staff reviewed product labels to determine compliance with label requirements under O. Reg. 119/11.
O. Reg 119/11 has different labelling requirements for honey sold at retail and honey sold directly from farm gate. Refer to the Infosheet "Label Requirements for Honey Products in Ontario" for a summary of label requirements, or www.ontario.ca/producesafety for more information.
To assist in determining label compliance, samples were analyzed for:
In 2015, 150 product labels were reviewed. This included 116 samples collected from retail locations and 34 samples collected from farm gate.
A summary of the results of label review, broken down by collection location, is provided in Table 2.
Table 2: Summary of the Label Review
O. Reg. 119/11 requires that honey sold at retail be labelled with the grade and colour class. All 116 retail samples had labels and were assessed to determine if the label contained the correct grade and colour class.
Grade is determined by a number of factors, one of these being moisture level. Based solely on moisture level it was used to determine that of the 116 samples collected at retail, 54 indicated the grade, and were labelled with the correct grade, (Ontario No. 1, Ontario No. 2 or Ontario No. 3).
Pfund measurements were used to determine that of the 116 samples collected at retail, 57 samples were labelled with the correct colour.
Grade and colour class are not required by O. Reg. 119/11 to be on the label for honey that is sold directly from farm gate. Producers may choose to include this information. If included, the information must be correct.
Producers selling from farm gate were notified by mail if their honey was labelled with an incorrect grade or colour class.
The Ministry takes a progressive compliance approach when dealing with regulatory non-compliance. The first stage is education and advice. For instances of continuing non-compliance, other tools may be used such as compliance orders, detention or seizure of product and as a last resort, court orders.
For more information on OMAFRA's Honey Monitoring Program please refer to the Infosheet, "Honey Monitoring Program" or go to www.ontario.ca/producesafety.
Results from this program are not statistically valid and cannot be used to make generalizations about the state of industry.
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