2016 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 2016, Ministry Inspectors collected 150 honey samples from 145 different honey operations in Ontario. All samples were produced during the 2016 season. Samples were randomly collected from retail and farm gate locations across the province.

Drug and Lead Analysis

All 150 samples were analysed for the presence of:

  • lead
  • chloramphenicol
  • tylosin
  • sulfonamides (15)
  • tetracyclines (3)

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, 148 samples were compliant with the allowable limits. Two samples had lead levels above the allowable level. 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 2016 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 2016 Laboratory Results

Samples with level above allowable limit

1 - Sulfadiazine, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfadoxine, Sulfamerazine, Sulfamethazine, Sulfamethoxazole, Sulfanilamide, Sulfaquinoxaline
2 - Tetracycline, Oxytetracycline, Chlortetracycline

Label Review

Ministry staff reviewed product labels to determine compliance with label requirements under O. Reg. 119/11.

There are different labelling requirements for honey sold at retail and honey sold directly from farm gate. Refer to 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:

  • per cent moisture (to determine the honey grade)
  • Pfund (to determine the colour classification)

In 2016, 150 product labels were reviewed. This included 101 samples collected from retail locations and 49 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
Label Information
Farm Gate
Number of labels reviewed
All requirements present
"Honey" missing
Net weight missing
Not Required
Grade missing
Not Required
Colour missing
Not Required
Name or complete address missing

Grade and Colour Analysis - Retail Samples

The regulation requires that honey sold at retail be labelled with the grade and colour class. All 101 retail samples had labels and were assessed to determine if the label contained the correct grade and colour class.

Grade Name

Grade is determined by a number of factors, one of these being moisture level. Based solely on moisture level it was determined that of the 101 samples collected at retail, 62 were labelled with the correct grade.

Colour Classification

Using a Pfund measurement, of the 101 sample collected at retail, 38 samples had the correct colour on their label.

Grade and Colour Analysis - Farm Gate Samples

Grade and colour class are not required 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.

Progressive Compliance

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.


This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to the regulation for complete requirements. O. Reg. 119/11 can be found at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca.

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.

For more information:

Telephone: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: fpo.omafra@ontario.ca


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Creation Date: May 2017
Last Reviewed: Aug 2017