This is the third of four posts by students in the UCLA Law Food Law and Policy Clinic on honey adulteration, honey litigation, and potential policy solutions to the problem of honey fraud.
By Terra Duchene, Aris Prince, Victoria Russell, Candace Yamanishi*
The American honey industry has been aware of the honey fraud problem for a long time. This post outlines fraudulent conduct in the honey certification space and describes a new California lawsuit that tackles honey adulteration.
In 2010, four North American honey packers and importers set up a certification program called True Source to guarantee the origin, safety, and purity of honey. Since the program’s creation, True Source participation has flourished. True Source representatives told the UCLA Food Law & Policy Clinic (“the Clinic”) that as of January 2021, 40% of honey sold in the USA and Canada is True Source Certified, and there are 820 participating companies: 22 packers, 23 importers, 95 exporters, and 680 beekeepers.
The True Source concept is simple. In theory, honey certified by the organization is regularly tested by third party laboratories for authenticity and is designed to allow honey to be tracked from the consumer, back through the supply chain, to the country of origin and the beekeeper who harvested the honey from the beehive. (True Source Standard; Complaint). The True Source participants are supposedly required to comply with specific standards (the “True Source Certified Standard”) to ensure the traceability and authenticity of honey at each stage in the supply chain.