Whoever produces honey and brings it into circulation is a food producer, and is bound by the appropriate consumer protection regulations (health- and fraud protection). ‘Bringing into circulation’ implies any form of passing on, either in return for payment (sale) or free of charge (as a gift).
An elegant way to fulfil these requirements is to join the Quality Programme of the Swiss Beekeepers Association (Honey Regulations). The Association has drawn up appropriate regulations and directives, and inspects and advises its affiliated members. Beekeepers need not arrange any honey testing themselves, but merely retain reference samples. Sampling and analysis is carried out by the Association. The Honey Regulations contain, in a nutshell, everything that beekeepers need to bear in mind.
Naturally, correct labelling is part and parcel of this. An updated factsheet on correct labelling, approved by the Honey Commission, can be downloaded here:
Merkblatt zur Kennzeichnung von Honig (German) (PDF, 69 kB, 30.01.2019) Factsheet on the Labelling of Honey
Mindesthalbarkeit auch für Honig vorgeschrieben (German (PDF, 43 kB, 14.09.2016), French (PDF, 44 kB, 15.09.2016) and Italian (PDF, 43 kB, 14.09.2016)) Best-by Dates also Required for Honey
P. Gallmann (2007)
Of course, the legal requirements can also be met without participating in the Industry quality programme. Important here is the exercise of due diligence, and the appropriate documentation of the relevant beekeeping measures: treatments, resources used, honey production and honey quality.
The ‘Mountain and Alpine’ Ordinance governs the use of the terms ‘mountain’ and ‘alpine’ to describe agricultural products, including honey. Mountain and alpine honey sold at points of sale must be certified by a recognised certification authority. Honey which the beekeeper sells direct to the consumer is exempt from compulsory certification.
The monitoring of primary production is subject to the cantonal veterinary offices. The enforcement, i.e. the implementation of food law falls within the remit of the cantonal food-inspection authorities, specifically, that of the cantonal chemist. Consumers can send suspicious honey to the responsible cantonal chemist. For quality assessment, the legal requirements – particularly the VLtH (Verordnung des EDI über Lebensmittel tierischer Herkunft) – are consulted.
Internationally, the analysis of bee products is coordinated by the International Honey Commission.
The Codex Alimentarius (international food standards) governs the international standards for honey. Search under ‘honey’ on the website.
Further Honey Analysis Methods
Honig, Kapitel 23A des ehemaligen Schweizerischen Lebensmittelbuches (German (PDF, 247 kB, 14.09.2016) and French (PDF, 242 kB, 15.09.2016)) Honey, Chapter 23A of the former Swiss Food Book
Honiguntersuchungsmethoden: Auszug aus dem ehemaligen Schweizerischen Lebensmittelbuches (German) (PDF, 285 kB, 14.09.2016) Honey-Testing Methods: Excerpt from the Former Swiss Food Book