This COC has been worked out under following sections of honey handling rights from honey harvest from bee hives to delivery to the consumers. The different sections are:
I. Extraction of honey from beehives,
II. On-farm storage of honey,
III. Packaging for transportation,
IV. Transportation to processing center,
V. Honey storage at the processing center,
VI. Processing of honey,
– Legal relevance,
– Location of the processing center,
– Structure of the processing center,
– Equipments and utensils,
– Processing operations,
– Lab setting for preliminary quality testing,
– Personnels and personal hygiene and sanitation,
VII. Packaging and labelling,
VIII. Quality control,
IX. Marketing standards,
X. Record keeping
XI. Professional conduct
XII. Inspection audit and certification
The Code of conduct
I. Extraction of honey from Bee-Hives:
1. Honeycomb selected for harvest should be at least 75% sealed.
2. The honey combs selected for harvest should be free from broods.
3. In case the honey is harvested from brood chamber to ease transportation during migration should be kept separately. Later it may be used to feed the bees themselves only.
4. Honey harvest from diseased and chemically treated colonies should be avoided until residual effect runs out.
5. The harvested honey should be subjected to settling. Alternatively, if production bulk is small it may be strained with seive or musclene cloth before putting into containers.
6. Tools and equipments used in honey harvest should be of stainless steel.
7. Every lot or batch of harvest should be properly labelled with traceability records along with proper record keeping.
8. The honey harvested in different time and of different sources should be kept and maintained separately.
II. On-farm storage of honey:
1. The harvester should better sale or deliver the honey at earliest time possible. Until then the honey should be kept at clean, cool and dry, well ventilated and odorless place in the house.
2. The honey should be kept away from animal shed, direct sun and uninsulated metal roofing.
3. The container with honey should be out of the reach of pet animals.
4. The honey container should protected from the invasion of ants, bees and flies.
5. Any contaminating materials like dusts, smokes, tobacco and chemicals and pesticides should be removed from honey stored place.
6. The honey containers should be better stacked on racks. Putting containers on floor and underweath bedcots should be avoided.
7. The containers and utensils should be made of stainless steel or food grade plastic.
8. Formented honey should be kept away from good honey.
9. Care should be taken that quality of honey is maintained at on-farm storage.
III. Packaging for Transportation:
1. The containers for bulk packaging of honey for transportation should be made of food grade plastic with easy to clean wide mouthed, airtight screw cap and with smooth surface inside.
2. For the sake of safety and better maintenance the bulk container should have additional lining of food grade thick plastic (75 micron) bag.
3. The container for small scale packaging should be clear glass or food grade plastic bottles with wide mouth and airtight lid.
4. The container for bulk packaging should be better of 20 kgs. capacity.
5. The containers should be thoroughly cleaned, washed and properly sterilized before use.
6. In case of small scale packaging the vacuum space in the container filled with honey should be less than five percent.
7. The containers should be numbered and properly labelled with traceability records which should entered into register also.
IV. Transportation to processing center:
1. Honey should be transported from the producer’s place at the earliest time possible.
2. While transporting care should be taken to avoid exposure of honey to direct sun, dirts, dusts, smoke, other obnexious gases, chemicals, petroleum products and other foul and filthy conditions.
3. The traceability records, should be properly recorded for each containers.
4. Every container should be numbered and should indicate at least the origin and the destination points.
V. Honey storage at the processing center:
1. The processing center should have a separate room/space for honey storage.
2. The floor and walls of the storage should be smooth and washable.
3. Storage of honey should be away from unhygienic places/conditions (animal sheds, dumping areas, and other foul and filthy spots).
4. The atmosphere of the honey storage should be cool and dry with ambient temperature of less than 22oc and relative humidity of 65% RH.
5. One should be aware that time and temperature should be in conformity with the HMF standard of honey.
Care should be taken to keep the HMF level below 20 mg.
6. As soon as the honey reaches the processing center it should be weighed, sampled for quality testing recorded in a properly maintained register.
7. The floor, walls and ceiling and overhead fixtures should be properly cleaned and thoroughly washed and dried before keeping honey for storage.
8. Any contaminating substances like dusts, tobacco, pesticides and other chemicals, petroleum products, and even various food products, formented and rotten objects and also fomented honey should be promptly removed out of the honey storage.
9. Storage of honey directly under sun and insulated metal roofing should be avoided.
10. The honey containers should be better kept on racks than spread on the floor.
11. The storage should be protected from the entry of bees, flies and ants.
VI. Processing of honey:
1. Legal relevance:
a. The processing enterprise should be registered with the government as per regulations.
b. The norms and procedures of food processing set by DFTQC should be binding for all honey processing units.
2. Location of the processing center:
a. The processing center should be located so as to avoid contamination and quality degradation of honey.
b. The processing chamber should be located far from dusty roads.
c. The processing center should be located in areas where wastes can be removed effectively.
d. The area should have proper drainage system.
3. Structure of the processing chamber:
a. The floor and partition walls of the processing chamber should have smooth, non-absorbent, washable and light colored surface.
b. The ceilings and overhead fixtures should be so constructed to minimize accumulation of dirt and condensation.
c. The doors and windows should be fitted with non-rusting, fine mesh, easily cleanable insect proof nets.
d. The chamber should be well ventilated and should be sufficiently lighted.
e. The chamber should be spacious enough to permit easy movements inside.
f. There should be separately located toiled and rest rooms quite far from processing chamber.
g. There should be conveniently designed and located changing and washing facility available.
h. The processing chamber should have adequate supply of potable water for cleaning and washing purposes.
i. Separate and easily identifiable containers should be provided and placed appropriately for wastes, by-products or harmful substances.
j. Effective waste management system should be adopted to keep the chamber and the premises healthy and hygienic.
4. Equipment and utensils:
a. The equipment and utensils used in honey processing should be made of stainless steel food grade plastic.
b. The utensils used in honey processing should be designed and fabricated to ensure easy cleaning, washing, sterilizing and drying.
c. The equipment should so located and fixed that maintenance, cleaning and monitoring could be easily performed.
5. Environment in and outside the processing chamber:
a. The environment inside the processing chamber should be clean, cool and dry and well ventilated.
b. Any steam and other unhygienic gases should be properly exhausted out of the chamber.
c. The ambient temperature inside the chamber should be maintained around 22oc. Likewise the humidity should be kept well below 65% RH.
d. Immediate premises outside the chamber should also be clean, free from dust and dirt, smoke and formented and decayed materials.
6. Processing Operations:
a. During entire processing operation care should be taken to prevent contamination, moisture absorption and maintain and preserve quality standards of honey.
b. Until sufficient skill and facilities are provided, honey should be preferably subjected to simple settling in specially designed settling vat.
c. The well settled clear honey can be directly drained into packaging containers.
d. In case of processing by warming direct heating should always be avoided.
e. Exposure of honey to high temperature for long time should be avoided. Following temperature level and time duration are known to develop HMF value at around 30 mg/kg.
At 60oc — 1 – 2.5 days
At 70oc — 3 – 5 hrs.
At 80oc — < 2 hrs.
f. The equipment and utensils that come into use in honey processing should be thoroughly cleaned, washed, sterilized and allowed to drying before utilizing in the process.
g. Also after processing the used equipment should be thoroughly cleaned, washed and kept completely covered.
h. GMP should be sincerely adopted at every step of honey processing.
i. GHP and HACCP should be taken into an account with full sincerity.
j. Product traceability records should be maintained for every batches at all stages of processing.
k. The crystallized honey should be decrystalized by warming upto 50oc for upto 48 hrs.
7. Laboratory setting and preliminary quality testing:
a. The processing center should be furnished with simple preliminary quality testing laboratory.
b. Equipment required by preliminary quality testing should be provisioned in the laboratory.
c. Random sampling should be taken for
• each lot of honey coming into the processing center.
• each batch of honey after processing.
d. The samples should be tested at the internal as well as external lab and the test results entered and maintained in a register.
8. Personnel and personal hygiene and sanitation:
a. The processing unit should be managed by a person who is well versed on the composition, quality parameters, quality standards and processing practices of honey.
b. The personnel working in honey processing should have pre-service training and exposure on honey quality, quality parameters and quality standards. They should be skilled in honey processing practices.
c. The personnel involved in processing operations should be in good health.
d. Persons with injuries and infected wounds skin infections, with diarrhea, or any contagious diseases should keep themselves out of the processing chamber or any works relevant in honey handling processing operations.
e. Persons involved in honey processing should wear protective clothing and head cover.
f. The protective clothing and personal effects should be kept in location separate from processing chamber.
g. The personnel in processing operation should wash and wipe out their hands before and after honey.
h. The honey handling processing personnel should abstain from smoking, chewing, drinking, spitting and other unhygienic and indecent habits during the works.
i. The personal effects, such as jewelries, watches, bangles, pins or other items should be taken off during honey processing works.
j. The personnel involved in honey handling processing should avoid use of nail polish.
k. The visitors should also adhere to the hygienic provisions such as changing foot wears, washing hands, using protective clothing and other personal cleanliness to enter the processing chamber.
l. The processing enterprise should be particular to adopt following measures while recruiting personnel;
• sort out candidates who are trained on the process.
• sort out persons who are in good health, and
• adopt inclusive steps and give priority to backward and disadvantaged group members.
• refrain from involving child and underage labour in the process.
VII. Packaging and Labeling:
1. The honey packaging and labeling agencies should be registered with the government and should get license with authorized brand name and specific axioms if any.
2. The packaging and labeling agencies should adhere to the norms and standards set for the purpose by DFTQC.
a. Bulk packaging containers should be of 20-22 kgs. capacity.
b. The containers for retail packaging may be of different sizes but not exceeding 2 kgs. capacity..
c. The bulk containers for export packing shall be of 200 liter or 300 kgs. capacity barrel made of steel with food grade lining and clamped airtight lid.
d. The bulk containers should be made of food grade plastic with wide mouth airtight screw cap and with smooth surface inside. The containers should be given with lining of thick (75 microns) plastic bag.
e. The containers for retail packaging should be made of clear colorless glass or food grade plastic with wide mouth, screw cap and smooth surface inside.
f. The containers of all categories should be properly cleaned, washed and sterilized before filling with honey.
g. The honey warmed up during processing should be allowed to cool down sufficiently before filling into the containers.
h. The containers should be filled with vacuum space of less than 5%.
i. The retail packing should be properly sealed.
j. The packaging should be done in cool and dry, neat and clean, smokeless, odorless and perfectly hygienic conditions.
k. While filling from the settling tank care should be taken to check mixing of the floated debris in the containers.
l. The processed honey should be given batch numbers and entered into register with processing date, production date and all traceability records.
a. The packaged honey should be properly labelled before marketing and marketing without properly labeling will be against the code of conduct and the set rules.
b. The enterprise labeling the packed honey should adhere to the norms and standards set by the food act, such as the label should reflect, beside the authorized brand name, the quantity, MRP, the batch number, processing and production dates and the sources of production.
c. The source should refer to the place of production, producer, the honeybee species and the floral origin.
d. The label should unfailingly indicate that crystallization is a natural process of honey and should be taken positively.
e. The label should indicate registration and permit number.
f. The honey package should be inspected and verified that it meets quality standards before pasting the label.
g. The size of the label should some assure that 50% of the container remains exposed.
h. Duplication of brand names and imitation of specific remarks and adages should be considered against the code of conduct.
VIII. Quality Control:
1. Honey dealers including harvesters, transporters, processors, packers and traders should be particular and watchful to maintain the quality standards at their respective steps.
2. While maintaining quality as prescribed by NBSM as given in Annex care should be taken that the natural color, smell and taste of honey are intact and comply to set standards.
3. The quality of honey should be tasted randomly for every batch before and after processing operations. The test results should be entered and transparently maintained in a properly kept register. The quality should meet international codex standards and mandatory standards of DFTQC.
4. For maintaining quality of honey produced at different locality, season and time, produced by different species of honeybees and from different floral species should be processed and maintained separately.
5. If blending of different quality and or source honey is required care should be taken to mix honey of similar color, smell and taste only.
6. The honey produced at higher altitude, produced from unique Himalayan and trans Himalayan floral sources and produced by Apis laboriosa will have unique qualities and should be taken as specialty product and can be traded as niche product.
IX. Marketing Standards:
1. The traders undertaking transaction of honey should adhere to the norms, standards and morals required by fair trade deals.
2. The honey traders should be particular to make certain that the honey reaches to the consumers’ hand at perfect condition with natural quality and without any contamination and adulteration.
3. The marketing agent should work to raise consumer awareness towards worth and values of honey usages in public health. They should display the merits and benefits of honey use in the showroom.
4. The showroom should display that crystallization of honey is a natural process and should be seen positively.
5. The honey stock packaged for retail sale should be stored in neat and clean, cool and dry place free from any contaminating and polluting materials.
6. Marketing of honey should be better held at supermarkets, departmental stores, cold stores or any other well managed conditions.
7. Displaying and marketing honey under bright sun, at open dusty footpath and at foul and filthy places should be discouraged.
8. The showroom displaying honey for retail sale should be kept cool and dry, neat and clean and in attractive and appealing condition.
9. The trader should check and see that the retail containers are leak proof, airtight and perfectly sealed.
10. The market agent dealing with honey sales should establish and conduct good, congenial and gentlemanly relationship/behaviour with the customers/consumer.
11. The salesman should humbly explain the quality, merits and usages of honey to the consumers before them.
12. Handling of processed honey until the point of sales should ensure that all quality standards prescribed by Nepal Honey Standards and International Codex Standard are perfectly met.
X. Record Keeping:
1. Effective process control with respect to GHP, GMP, HACCP is necessary to produce and provide honey as wholesome natural food.
2. All operational procedures, treatments and results/outputs should be recorded and maintained at all steps such as harvesting, packaging, transportation, processing, retail packaging, stock keeping/storage, quality control and marketing.
3. The record book should be transparent and fairly maintained.
4. The inspectors and certifying agents should have easy access to the record books.
5. The record book should be reviewed at times and if any points of correction or error is noticed at any step of honey handling that should be promptly reformed to keep the quality standards upto the prescribed level.
XI. Professional Conducts:
1. The professionals venturing into honey transportation, whether in harvesting, processing or marketing with all intermittent steps, should all adopt measures to raise awareness among honey consumers on the worth, values and benefits and usages of honey as wholesome natural food.
2. The professionals should establish good and congenial relationship with the producers on the upstream side and the consumers on the downstream side.
3. Congenial relationship should also be established with the input suppliers and ensure that materials like packaging containers, whether bulk or retail, are regularly met.
4. The traders should establish good relationship with the market outlet (retailer).
5. The professionals involved in honey business should establish good mutual relationship with fellow professionals. At times they should meet and exchange problems and challenges faced in the profession as well as the progress made should be shared.
6. The honey dealers should establish good relationship with all the stakeholders involved in different aspects of honey deal including production, supply, processing and also development of the profession.
7. The professionals in different aspects of honey handling should stride to maintain handling loss of honey below five percent.
8. The honey business community should abstain from duplicating brand names and imitating axioms used by other fellow dealers.
9. The professionals should be particular in keeping the range of MRP below 50% level for the same category of honey.
XII. Inspection, Audit and Certification:
1. The process and practices applied at different steps of honey handling should be subjected to timely and routine inspections by authorized agencies.
2. The quality of processed honey should be tested regularly through external private/independent laboratories and should obtain certificates of the test results.
3. The process and the outcomes should be subject to regular performance audits by certified auditors.
This COC has been worked out under following sections of honey handling rights from honey harvest from bee hives to delivery to the consumers. The different sections are: