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Basic facts about honey (from the National Honey Board)

Honey Nutrition Information

One tablespoon of honey contains 64 Calories. By contrast, a tablespoon of sugar contains 45 Calories. However, honey tastes sweeter than sugar, and people tend to use less.

The exact makeup of each individual honey varies somewhat, but honey is generally composed of:

  • 80% sugar (fructose & glucose)
  • 18% water
  • 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen & protein

What is meant by “Raw Honey” vs. “Organic Honey”

Honey is a naturally pure and safe food. Because it has a high sugar content, mild acidity, and a low moisture level, microorganisms cannot grow in honey. It never needs pasteurization. Raw honey is essentially the same product that the bees have produced. It naturally contains enzymes, vitamins and grains of pollen. Raw honey is strained to remove impurities, such as wax, but is never heated excessively. Some commercial processors may heat honey, to lower its viscosity and filter out pollen and other particles that promote crystallization. Excessive heating can destroy some of these natural enzymes.

The USDA Organic seal on a product indicates that it was produced without conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Honey labeled as “Organic” indicates that the product meets standards implemented by the USDA through third-party certification agencies, whether produced in the US or in a foreign country. If you wish to use the USDA-Organic seal on your packaging, you must be certified by an accredited agent. Because honey bees can forage so far from their hives, it is practically impossible to control whether they may come into contact with pesticides, fertilizers, or other substances prohibited under organic regulations. An alternative certification, such as Certified Naturally Grown, indicates that the honey was produced using sustainable methods, and without employing chemical pesticides in or around the hives.

Labeling your honey

In addition to the jar or bottle, the label you attach to your product should be appealing to your potential customers. When you package honey for sale, you must also meet certain legal requirements.

A label must indicate the common name of the product. In this case, the word “Honey” should be clearly visible on the label. If you are certain that your honey is primarily a mono-floral variety, you may label it appropriately (i.e. “Clover Honey” or “Blackberry Honey”).

The net weight of your product (excluding packaging) should be indicated in easy-to-read type, located on the lower third of the label. It must be listed in both pounds and ounces, and in metric weight (i.e. “Net Wt. 16 oz. (454 g)”). Use the government conversion factor of 1 oz. = 28.3495 grams. Most containers that are manufactured specifically for honey bottling indicate the weight of honey that they will hold. Other containers may be labeled by fluid ounces, which is different than weight. For example, a pint jar holds 16 fluid ounces, or approximately 1 pound of water, but holds 1.5 pounds of honey. If you are using a container of unknown volume, measure the volume of water it holds, and use the the online honey calculator to establish its net weight.

Labels on packaged food must list the contact information for the packer. This includes the name and address of the person or company that packaged the product. If you purchase honey from another beekeeper and bottle it yourself, your contact information must appear on the label. A telephone number, email address or website may also be included. This information must be in a type size that is at least 1/16″ tall.

For more information about honey labeling requirements, visit the National Honey Board’s website.

Should I collect sales tax from my honey sales?

Honey is considered a farm product, and is exempt from sale tax when sold direct-from-farm (this may include an urban beekeeper’s home). A farmers’ market or roadside stand is also considered an extension of direct-from-farm sales.
[Ark. Code Ann. § 26-52-401(18)(A)(iii)]

Crystallized honey

All natural honey will eventually crystallize. Honey with higher glucose content tends to crystallize more rapidly. Raw honey tends to crystallize more readily than processed honey because it contains more microscopic particles, such as pollen grains, which the crystals form around. Crystallized honey is not spoiled. Simply place the container in a pan of warm water (about 100°F) to liquefy the honey again.

Why should honey should not be fed to infants?

Infant botulism is a unique form of food poisoning. Children under twelve months of age may not have a strong enough immune system or sufficient stomach acids to fend off this form of bacterial spore.  Although honey prevents the growth of bacteria due to its low pH and moisture level, honey may contain the spores of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. When a young child eats the tainted honey, the bacterial spores activate and produce botulism food poisoning.  Botulinum spores can also be found in inadequately prepared home preserves or canned goods, and may be common on unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables. Although the risk is very low, children should not be fed honey until they have reached one year of age to avoid potential food poisoning.