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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – February 2023

- February 1, 2023 - (excerpt)

FDA Provides enforcement mechanism for adulterated honey


ke Aloha Mea,

We have led presentations on the scope of the FDA Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act 21 on honey in Hawai`i (and the rest of the U.S.), as Hawai`i honey was involved in the Federal Food and Drug Act of 1906.

We have been trying to enlighten local beekeepers on the extent of U.S. labeling law, as my husband is one of the Hawai`i agricultural labeling compliance specialists who has had to deal with a lot of misinterpretation of the U.S. Labeling Laws!

In “Cat & Mouse Game” (M.E.A. McNeil, December), the strength of the FDA’s labeling compliance was omitted. FDA FDC Act 21 is very clear in the fact that the two labels the article highlighted are in direct violation of the Act (Chapter 321 “The adulteration or misbranding of any food”), as both the “Tesco” & “Tennessee Mountain Sourwood” have been offered in interstate trade.

FDA FD&C Act 21 is a public law enforceable by the FDA, which has included many entities to assist, including state agricultural inspectors, USDA, and can include local law enforcement. A violation could trigger total recall of all product that has been mislabeled, seizure, along with fines and audit actions, if applicable.

The FD&C Act ( includes:


  • 331. Prohibited acts

The following acts and the causing thereof are prohibited:

(a) The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.

(b) The adulteration or misbranding of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic in interstate commerce.”

The “Tennessee Mountain Sourwood” product highlighted in the article also could be in violation of the FDA Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) Section 515.300 Honey – Source Declaration, if the honey producer is in not in a position to demonstrate that “Sourwood” constitutes the chief floral source of this honey.

FDA CPG Sec 515.300 states:

“POLICY: A honey may be labeled with the name of the plant or blossom provided that the particular plant or blossom is the chief floral source of the honey, such as “Orange Blossom Honey” or “Clover Honey,” and provided that the honey producer is in a position to demonstrate that the plant or blossom designated on the label constitutes the chief floral source of the honey.” (

The Federal FD&C Act 21 covers interstate and import commerce, and anyone selling their products interstate must comply with the FDA FD&C Act 21 and FDA CPG Sec 515.300, including online sales.

Most states also have in-state labeling laws that are equal to or more restrictive than federal law, and the “Tennessee Mountain Sourwood” product would be in violation of that state’s labeling laws if it was a home-based product!

Tennessee home-based labeling:

With both federal and local labeling laws, the enforcement branch relies on producers coming forward or consumers reporting verifiable non-compliance. Apiculturalists in Hawai`i worked with the USDA to conduct studies in 1905 on the source of honeys produced in the Territory. (


The Tennessee brand on Amazon:


A hui hou!

Carey Yost

Jim and Carey’s Happy Bees

Hawai`i Region Director

Western Apicultural Society