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How To Label Your Honey in South Africa


So you want to sell honey and you’re not quite sure what needs to go on the label? Well, here’s a helpful guide on how to label your honey to make sure it’s legal and above board with the South African Government.

Just like many other countries, the Republic of South Africa has some rules in place for selling honey and bee product mixes. These rules are laid out in the Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990 (Act No. 119 of 1990), Government Notice No. 835 of 25 August 2000.

These regulations cover things like how honey and bee products should be graded, packaged, and labeled when they’re going up for sale in South Africa. Basically, these rules are there to make sure that consumers are safe and protected and that the competition in the industry is fair for both local and imported products.

Requirements For Selling Honey in South Africa

Alright, in order to know how to label your honey correctly we need to look at the overall requirements for selling honey in South Africa, so let’s break down the legal requirements for grading, packaging and labeling honey in South Africa, meet these requirements, and you’ll be buzzing along with the regulations:

  1. Grade It Right: Is it choice grade or industrial grade?
  2. Grading Standards: These grades have their own standards to meet.
  3. Pack It Properly: Make sure your containers follow the rules.
  4. Label It Clearly: Don’t forget to label your products according to the requirements.
  5. What Not to Say: There are certain things you can’t claim on your labels.
  6. Keep It Clean: Your products should be pure, with no funny business like impurities, additives, or adulterants.

1. Honey Grade Types

Honey is categorized into two distinct grades: Choice grade and Industrial grade. These classifications help distinguish honey based on its quality and purpose. Choice grade honey is typically sought after for its superior quality, often preferred for consumption due to its refined taste and purity. On the other hand, Industrial grade honey serves various non-consumable purposes, finding application in a range of industrial and commercial activities. This grading system provides consumers and industries with a clear distinction, ensuring that honey is utilized appropriately based on its specific characteristics and intended use.

2. Honey Grade Standards

Your honey must meet the following grading standards in order to be fit for sale on the South African market;

  • The honey must be thoroughly ripened to attain the proper moisture content and enzyme activity.
  • The honey should not contain any foreign particles such as mold, insects, debris, or sand.
  • The honey must not exhibit any foreign tastes or odors.
  • Fermentation or effervescence should not have commenced in the honey.
  • The honey should not undergo treatments that compromise its natural enzymes or render them inactive.

3. Honey Container Requirements

Your honey containers need to be made from materials that meet the following criteria;

  • They should be made from materials that are suitable for food storage.
  • The material should keep the contents safe from any contamination.
  • It shouldn’t introduce any unwanted stuff into the mix by contaminating the contents.
  • The container needs to be robust, holding up well against regular storage, handling, and transport.
  • Make sure it’s in one piece and sealed up tight.

Typical Honey Container Types

  1. Food-grade glass jar
  2. Food-grade plastic squeeze bottle
Consol Glass Honey Jar
Plastic Honey Squeeze Bottles

4. Honey Label Requirements

Here’s the deal according to the law we talked about earlier: If you’re selling honey or bee product mixes locally, you’ve got to make sure your containers are labeled clearly and legibly and that the label contains all the relevant information. These labeling requirements are all about giving consumers the lowdown on what they’re buying so they can make informed choices. Check out the info-graphic below for an example of how to label your honey correctly.


Honey Label Specifications

  • Name of product
  • Grade
  • Name and business address of producer
  • The word irradiated / radurised (imported honey)
  • Lot identification number
  • Date of packing (can be used for lot Identification)
  • The country of origin of the contents
  • The net mass

Why It’s Good Practice To Label Your Honey ‘Not Suitable For Babies Under 12 Months’

Babies under one year old should not consume honey due to the risk of botulism. Honey can sometimes contain bacterial spores that produce toxins in a baby’s immature digestive system, causing botulism. While cases of infant botulism from honey are rare, the potential danger is serious enough that pediatricians recommend avoiding honey for infants until they reach their first birthday. After that age, their digestive system is more developed and can handle the bacteria more effectively.

5. What Not To Say On Your Honey Label

Don’t put anything on the honey label that is misrepresentative and might give the wrong idea or confuse people about what’s inside. Keep it straightforward. If something isn’t real honey but a honey substitute (ie. syrups etc) or if the honey substitute has real honey in it, you may not call it “honey” on the label, you may only list honey as an ingredient on the back. Be honest about what’s in there!

Keeping It Clean

So, here’s the deal: if you’re in the honey business in South Africa, you’ve got to play by the rules. Make sure your honey is up to snuff, following all the grading, packing, and marking guidelines. Breaking these rules? It’s considered an offense, and if you’re caught and convicted, you might end up with a fine or even some time behind bars. Best to keep it on the straight and narrow!

For technical information regarding the honey regulations contact:

  • Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance
  • Private Bag X343, Pretoria, 0001
  • Harvest House, 30 Hamilton Street, Arcadia
  • Tel.: 012 319 6027
  • Fax: 012 319 6055/6265
  • E-mail: NielE@daff.gov.za


Visit their website on:
http://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Branches/Agricultural-ProductionHealth-Food-Safety/Food-Safety-Quality-Assurance/Local-andImport-Regulations/Processed-products-honey regulation

For food safety and quality promotion and awareness contact:

  • Directorate: Food Import and Export Standards
  • P. O. Box 40024, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0007
  • Tel.: 012 319 6310 / 6118
  • Fax: 012 319 6329
  • E-mail: info.sps@daff.gov.za
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