Ohio Department of Agriculture proposes amendments to maple syrup, sorghum, and honey regulations

Written by Ellen Essman, Law Fellow, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will hold a public hearing on July 19, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. to accept written and oral comments on its proposed amendments to the maple syrup, sorghum, and honey rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).

Amendments and changes to the maple syrup, sorghum, and honey rules are proposed for parts of OAC chapters 901:3-44, 901:3-45, and 901:3-46, including substantive changes that address antibiotics in honey, grades and standards for maple syrup, labeling related to maple syrup grades, and requirements for food grade materials to be used for honey, maple syrup, and sorghum.   With these proposed changes and amendments, ODA seems to be trying to make the rules for honey, maple syrup, and sorghum more in line with federal rules and standards.  In addition, safety of honey, maple syrup, and sorghum products seems to be at the forefront with a broader antibiotic exclusion in honey products, and the requirement to use “food grade materials” for honey, maple syrup, and sorghum. The sections below will discuss each of these proposed changes in turn.

No antibiotics allowed in honey

It is proposed that OAC 901:3-44-01 be amended to remove references to specific antibiotics and to instead simply state that any antibiotics, in any amount, “render the honey” or its beeswax as “adulterated.”

Maple syrup rules to correspond with federal rules and standards

ODA has proposed striking the current OAC 901:3-45-01, which outlines voluntary grades and standards for maple syrup, and replacing it with language that incorporates the grading and color classifications put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  In other words, ODA is proposing that Ohio replace its current language with the grades and color classifications for maple syrup used by the federal government.  What is more, if this amendment is adopted, it appears as though grading and color classifications would no longer be voluntary.

ODA’s proposed amendment for OAC 901:3-45-03 involves deleting “Ohio” and inserting “U.S.”  This change would mean that the labeling requirements for grading maple syrup would follow federal standards instead of state standards.  The adoption of federal grade labeling, as well as of federal grading and color classifications, would make it easier to sell and ship maple syrup produced in Ohio outside of the state.

Food grade materials for honey, maple syrup, and sorghum

The proposed changes to OAC 901:3-45-04, 901:3-45-05, 901:3-46-06, 901:3-46-07 all include the addition of the requirement that containers be made of food grade materials. Accordingly, the proposed changes would require that all of the following be made of food grade materials:

  • Maple syrup packaging,
  • Bulk containers (barrels, drums, etc.) for maple syrup,
  • Packaging for products from maple syrup processors, sorghum processors, and beekeepers exempt from mandatory inspection, and
  • Bulk containers for products from maple syrup processors, sorghum processors, and beekeepers exempt from mandatory inspection.

“Food grade material” is defined in OAC 901:3-46-01 as “a material that when in contact with food will remain safe, durable, free of rust, non-absorbent, and will not allow the migration of deleterious substances, impart color, odor, or taste to food under normal use.”

More information about attending the hearing or sending in comments (including when written comments must be received), and a brief overview of each change is available here.   A draft of the proposed amendments and revisions is here.

 

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