Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the goals of the True Source Honey initiative?
- What is required for a honey to be True Source Certified®?
- What is EA/LC-IRMS Testing?
- What is NMR or HRMS testing?
- Why did True Source Honey update its standards in 2021?
- Which companies are involved with the True Source Honey program?
- Who conducts the audits?
- Is True Source Certified honey better than other honey?
- What about honey in cereal and granola bars, and other foods?
The True Source Honey Certification program was launched in 2010 to help prevent illegal trade in honey that circumvents U.S. law, and which also potentially harms the reputation of all honey sold in North America. True Source Honey is committed to ensuring that honey is sourced in a transparent and traceable manner, and is authentic.
True Source Certified is a voluntary system for those participants in an international supply chain who wish to demonstrate through an independent third-party audit that their sourcing practices for honey are in full compliance with requirements of the True Source Certified Standards. The program includes documentation and testing requirements as well as third-party audits.
There are two critical areas of focus in the supply chain, the exporter and the packer. In order to provide traceability, participants must adhere to all of the elements of the standards. These include proper documentation, use of the True Source Certified system of identification and in some countries, the use of third-party auditors to sample and seal loads in the country of origin prior to shipment.
Starting in 2021, True Source Certified loads of honey – whether imported to North America or purchased directly from beekeepers – are tested at some point in the supply chain using either EA/LC-IRMS and NMR or EA/LC-IRMS and HRMS to confirm authenticity. This is in addition to the long-established pollen analysis, which is a country of origin testing requirement for honey from high-risk countries.
The authenticity testing program can be completed at any point in the supply chain by an accredited laboratory and the results must be available to a third-party auditor for each True Source Certified load in a North America packer audit. In addition, these same tests will be conducted on random samples collected during a packer audit.
This testing detects the presence of added sugars from C3 plants (rice, wheat or beet syrup) and C4 plants (cane or corn syrups). This method, which is the analysis of stable carbon ratios by the conventional Elemental Analyzer (EA) or high performance Liquid Chromatography (LC) combined with Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS), was ISO validated in 2008.
Introduced in 2013, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) profiling is a rapid screening technique that compares a honey sample to a reference database to identify possible adulterants as well as to detect prohibited honey processing methods and other potential manipulations of honey. Introduced in 2015, High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) is a highly sensitive screening tool used to identify specific markers typical of sugar syrups.
True Source Honey has focused on honesty and transparency in honey sourcing. It has updated its standards to better address industry needs regarding honey authenticity.
True Source Honey had required its packers to maintain a system to analyze honey authenticity, but had not specified exact testing methodologies. The new standards are exact, requiring specific testing which combines longstanding approved methods with new cutting-edge technologies to identify possible economic adulterants in honey.
The True Source Certified Program has more than 600 members around the world. An estimated 40 percent of honey sold in the United States and Canada is True Source Certified. Many retailers have added the True Source Certified logo to their packaging to assure customers that their honey is authentic. In recent years, several manufacturers have also added the Made with True Source Honey logo to their packaging when True Source Honey is used as an ingredient.
NSF International, a global public health and safety organization and independent certification body for the food industry, conducts the audits and certifications for the True Source Honey program worldwide.
Most honey comes from high-quality sources. However, despite federal crackdowns, adulterated honey and illegally sourced honey remains a global issue. Historically, imported honey originating from China has been transshipped through other countries to circumvent the U.S. duty on Chinese origin honey. True Source Certification ensures there is a transparent record of the honey's sources and that the honey has been tested for authenticity.
Honey has earned a special place in people's hearts and minds as a wholesome, natural food. We want to protect that reputation and quality.
Honey is an ingredient in many of the foods you buy at the grocery store including cereals, breads, cookies, crackers, breakfast bars, meats, salad dressings, barbeque sauces, mustards, beverages, ice creams, yogurts and candies. Products made using True Source Certified Honey may apply to use the Made with True Source Honey logo on their packaging.