National Honey Packers & Dealers Association
Greg Olsen, Lamex Foods, Inc.
It appears I’m only one of three people who have served more than one stint as NHPDA president. In fact, the other two served each served two one-year terms as president in the four years prior to my election in January. In the time since my last term as president ended, some things have changed and a lot has stayed the same.
One thing that’s remained constant is the NHPDA’s efforts to address industry issues head on. The NHPDA, whether on its own or in concert with other industry associations, routinely takes a position on issues that impact the honey industry and makes that position known.
For example, the honey industry is extremely disappointed in FDA’s decision to require that honey be listed as an added sugar on the updated Nutrition Facts Panel requirements that go into effect next year. The industry is concerned consumers’ perception of honey will change. For example, we’re concerned that listing the sugar content in honey as “Added Sugars” on the nutrition facts label implies adulteration of honey in its natural form. We’re concerned consumers will be misled to believe that honey is sweetened by adding an external sugar source rather than the naturally occurring sugars inherent in honey.
As has been the case with many issues, the NHPDA and other industry groups worked together to express industry concerns to FDA. We realize that honey is added to foods in preparation or manufacturing and in that case it is clearly an added sugar in those foods and would therefore be labeled as “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts label. However, pure honey, itself, does not contain added sugars. To that end, we are asking that the FDA consider listing the naturally occurring sugar content of 100 percent pure honey as a “Total Sugar” and not “Added Sugars.”
The NHPDA and other industry organizations also worked together recently regarding a country-of-origin marking issue. We’re seeking clarification on USDA and CBP requirements that seem to contradict one another. We’ve been told a Federal Register notice should be published within the next few months that will address this issue.
The industry is also concerned about the integrity of its product; the NHPDA and several other industry groups have formed a task force and allocated funds to investigate issues such as transshipment and adulteration and develop recommendations to address them.
These and other issues, such as the desire for a standard of identity for honey and maximum residue levels, will continue to keep the NHPDA busy. Of course, a recurring theme in this publication is the Food Safety Modernization Act. As part of AFI, the NHPDA has worked hard to ensure members understand the requirements and how to meet them. Honey is a unique product. FSMA and other issues such as genetically modified foods and organic certification impact the sector in ways those outside the industry may not realize. That’s why it’s so important there’s an organization like the NHPDA and that it works with others in the industry to tackle the issues impacting us.
There’s so much going on and a need to continue to discuss our issues that for the fourth straight year we’re having a mid-year general membership meeting in Washington DC in June. We expect to be joined by representatives from key government agencies as well. It’s important we interact with them as much as possible to ensure they understand our issues and any role they can play to address them.