Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Statement on Red "Honey"

Updated, September 17, 2013

Utah Beekeepers With Red “Honey” Eligible For Exchange Program

(Salt Lake City)  Utah beekeepers who recently discovered red honey in their hives are advised to contact their local Utah County Beekeeping Association or the Wasatch Beekeeping Association to participate in a “honey” exchange program.
     The red honey was discovered by several beekeepers in the past few weeks after a red sugary syrup product that contained a candy cane by-product was fed to bees in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Washington Counties.  Bees from other hives in the vicinity of the feeding areas also produced red-colored honey.  Beekeepers with red honey can exchange their product for traditional honey.
     Tests conducted by the Laboratory Services Division of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) on the red honey products found no detectible levels of lead.  The product is not considered a health threat to consumers, although some consumers may be sensitive to the red dye in the product. 
     While it is unlikely the red honey product will be sold at the retail level, consumers are advised that the product does not meet the legal description of honey and should not be marketed as honey.
“The Utah Code defines honey as a product that originates from flowers and other plants,” said Jay Schvaneveldt, UDAF’s Food Compliance Supervisor.  “Strictly speaking, the red honey should not be sold as “honey.”
    Utah beekeepers are encouraged to register with the UDAF to stay up-to-date on important information that can improve hive health and increase profitability.  Registered beekeepers receive information on disease outbreaks in Utah and are offered ways to protect their hives.  To register, visit: 
http://1.usa.gov/1e9M9zI, or http://ag.utah.gov/plants-pests.html/

Statement from Wasatch Beekeepers Association



Updated 09/10/13
UDAF Tests Find No Lead in Red "Honey"

UDAF Laboratory Services reports that tests on samples of "red honey" discovered by beekeepers in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties found no detectable levels of lead.
Samples of honey, a red candy cane syrup that was fed to several hives, and crushed candy canes used to make the syrup were tested for the presence of lead following complaints by Utah beekeepers who recently discovered red honey in their hives.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established the "maximum allowable levels of lead" in candy (and more specifically, candy likely to be consumed by small children) is 0.1 ppm (parts per MILLION), which is equivalent to 100 ppb (parts per BILLION).

The UDAF used a well-established industry standard method for testing for the presence of metals.  The test can detect lead down to 2 parts per BILLION, and found none in the samples.

"We can say with confidence that none of the samples (red honey, candy cane syrup, crushed candy cane) were found to contain any detectable level of lead." said Chemistry Laboratory Director, Dr. Weston Judd.

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UDAF Statement on Red “Honey” and Advisory to Utah Beekeepers 
09/04/13 (Salt Lake City)

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has received several complaints about the presence of a red 'honey' occurring in bee hives located in areas of Davis, Salt Lake and Utah Counties. This 'honey' is alleged to be the product of bees that have been fed a candy cane by-product from a candy factory. The by-product was fed to bees outside of the hive and is believed to be the reason the honey-product is colored red.

The UDAF is currently gathering information to determine the safety of this 'honey,' but we have no reason to believe the product is unsafe. The Department’s Division of Regulatory Services is investigating to determine if this honey product is in violation of the Utah Honey Standard of Identity Act, which identifies honey as a product that originates from a plant source. 

The UDAF is advising Utah beekeepers who encounter this red 'honey' in their hives to NOT mix it with the other honey and to report it to the UDAF State Apiarist Dave Basinger.

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