A measure that seeks to exempt raw, unprocessed honey from the New Jersey Department of Health’s cottage food regulations is advancing in Trenton.
Under a bill passed unanimously Oct. 17 by the state Senate, honey would be removed from the list of foods covered by the state’s newly enacted laws governing the sale of home baked goods and other prepared foods by individuals to individuals.
Up until October 2021, it was illegal to sell home baked goods unless they were prepared in a commercial kitchen, but New Jersey has joined a growing number of states allowing cottage food operations. According to the state heath department, the guidelines were developed using input from several stakeholders, including local health officials, home bakers and the retail food industry, and are aimed at allowing home bakers to operate small businesses while ensuring the appropriate safeguards are in place.
However, since honey is included, a permit is now required to extract it, bottle it and sell it, which changes where and how beekeepers can sell their extra honey.
A bill that would have amended the regulation to exclude honey was passed by the state Assembly and state Senate but pocket vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy in the final days of the 2020-21 legislative session.
In May, legislation to exempt honey from the list of cottage food products was introduced into the state Senate by Sens. Andrew Zwicker, D-16th District, and Steven Oroho, R-24th District. A companion bill is being sponsored by Assemblymembers Joe Danielson, D-17th District, Roy Freiman, D-16th District, and William Spearman, D-5th District.
“For far too long, beekeepers have been subject to unnecessary government red tape that prevents them from easily distributing fresh, unprocessed honey,” Oroho said in a statement following the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 2697.
The Republican senator added, “My legislation will exempt raw honey from these needless Department of Health regulations so that beekeepers and farmers can get their product to the public in an efficient manner.”
According to the bill’s text, the amendment would address recommendations made by the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, a statewide organization that believes honey was “improperly included” in the law and “should not be subject to the Cottage Food regulations.”"