TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A bill that recently passed the Texas House concerning the labeling of honey has caused concern among the Texas Beekeepers Association (TBA) on how the bill would be implemented.
“TBA has chosen not to take a firm stance for or against this bill,” TBA said. “It is unclear what impact this bill may have on the Texas honey market.”
The bill, HB 590, is authored by Texas Rep. Ernest Bailes and reads that “a person may not label, sell, or keep, offer, or expose for sale a product identified on its label as ‘Texas honey’ unless the product consists exclusively of honey produced from apiaries in Texas.”
According to the beekeepers association, there is no real process or infrastructure to enforce the bill, but there are studies being done on the financial impact similar bills have had in their respective states. The association said they support efforts to “substantially improve truth in labeling in the honey market,” and they believe further research and discussions would be in the best interest of Texas beekeepers.
An amendment to the bill was proposed when it was brought to the House floor for a vote, asking to change the word “exclusively” to “predominately.” However, the amendment failed 30 to 108 on a vote and was sent to the Senate without change.
“Currently, there is no reliable way to test honey affordably for the place of origin leaving test results subject to some interpretation,” the association said. “For example: pollen from sesame plants or clover, while they exist in some parts of Texas, are more commonly associated with China or the Dakotas respectively.”
Currently, Texas A&M AgriLife states that to sell honey in Texas, people must comply with State Health Services, FDA registration, FDA food labeling and local health department guidelines.
The bill was assigned to the Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee in the Senate.
The TBA said that while they support honest labeling practices in the honey industry, they look forward to working with stakeholders to create a more comprehensive bill in the future that would achieve transparent labeling practices in Texas.