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Rules and regulations for selling honey in Michigan


EAST LANSING, MI. – Many Michigan beekeepers have questions about the rules and regulations regarding processing and selling honey and honey products. Michigan State University Extension’s Starting and Keeping Bees in Michigan: Rules and Regulations is a complete guide for beekeepers.

Some of the common questions addressed in the guide related to processing and selling honey and honey products include:

• What are the honey processing rules?

• Can I sell honey directly to people?

• Can I sell honey in stores?

• How do I label my honey products?

• Can I use the word ‘organic’ on my label?

Below are the answers to these common questions, although we encourage you to check out the Starting and Keeping Bees in Michigan: Rules and Regulations for more detail and important information on other topics.

Honey Processing Rules

Sale of pure honey does not fall under the Michigan Cottage Food Law. Your amount of honey sales determines the rules you must follow. Generally, those under $15K in gross sales are exempt from licensing. Those who sell $15,001 and more in gross sales are required to have Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Food Establishment License(s) for processing and warehousing, as well as a facility license for the building/kitchen it is produced in.

Selling Honey

Honey producers are not limited to direct sales as cottage food producers are. They can wholesale their products to grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers, as long as their package is labeled correctly.

Before selling your honey, you must determine if your facility needs to be licensed based on gross sales. If you do need a processing license, you’ll need a label that meets state labeling guidelines. See the licensing information above and the labeling information below in this article.

Labeling Honey

For pure, one ingredient honey, your labeling guidelines are also based on your gross sales totals. For those selling $15K or under in a year, you need the following on your label:

Name of business;

Address of production;

Standard identity of product, such as honey if only one ingredient;

Net weight;

And the disclaimer "Processed in a facility not inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development".

For those with $15,001 or above in annual sales, you need to follow the MDARD labeling guidelines. If you add anything to pure honey, there are additional rules which are in the document referenced at the beginning of the article.

Nutrition Facts on Labels

You are not required to have a nutrition facts label unless you make nutrition claims or sell more than 100,000 units. However, stores can require a nutrition facts label on products sold.

Putting Organic on the Label

You can only do so if you are a certified organic operation. Read more about this for further guidance in the Rules and Regulations.

The MSU Extension Starting and Keeping Bees in Michigan: Rules and Regulations is a complete guide for beekeepers that will answer the above questions and more.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan State University Product Center assists entrepreneurs and businesses to develop products and services in the food and agriculture markets. Its team of experts consult with clients on a one-on-one basis, helping new entrepreneurs navigate from concept development to launch and beyond. The MSU Product Center also offers specialized services such as labeling, packaging and nutritional analysis. If you are interested in business counseling from the MSU Product Center, please visit our website at www.canr.msu.edu/productcenter.