What part of processing is processing?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Gage County, Nebraska, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default What part of processing is processing?

    We've had an incredible year this year with a record harvest (for us at least) and have intentions (and now means) to double the operation next year. I've realized this year that in our small community, that 500+ lbs of honey is challenging to retail through a small farmers market and that we may really have trouble moving twice that volume...should we get there. Nebraska's Pure Food Act mimics most cottage laws and, simply put, says that we don't have to 'process' in a commercial kitchen as long as WE directly retail to the consumer. The advantage, as you can imagine, is no inspection/no license/no fees. The disadvantage is: no advertising and no commercial sales (such as those in a grocery store, etc.). The question that I have yet to ask the USDA Health Inspector (Food Cop as the kids call her) is this: what part of the extraction/straining/settling/bottling process is the 'commercial process'? If it's the bottling: GREAT, our home kitchen should meet the requirements; if it's the extraction and bottling process: $*&!, I refuse to extract in our dining room. I've considered renting a commercial kitchen and having it inspected, but the same dilemma applies: how to mitigate the sticky mess and how to handle the 100 or so rogue bees that refuse to leave the super. I haven't asked the War Department, but I know what she'd say. Any insight from those that have overcome this hurdle? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from folks in Nebraska, as it would be a common food law, but am interested in all experiences.

    Thanks in advance!
    Tom
    ubi mel, ibi apes

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    At least in Illinois I believe the colloquial/layman's distinction lies on the line between wholesale and retail. If you sell directly to the consumer you're considered a hobbyist and fall under the cottage industries regulations. If there's any middlemen between you and the consumer you're commercial. My interpretation of "consignment" sales doesn't violate the cottage regulations any more than a roadside honesty stand as ownership never transfers to the shop owner, they only oversee the funds transfer. The Navy referred those dispensing this type of legal interpretation as S%$&house lawyers, caveat emptor.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Gage County, Nebraska, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    Well, I spoke with the inspector last Friday and left feeling very warm and fuzzy. First, she seems to be a friendly, understanding person and second, SHE'S A BEEKEEPER...or at least 'was' before she left North Carolina to move to Nebraska. Probably what made me smile the most is when she said "I will have to research the Nebraska regulations, but if there's a way to do it, I'm going to do my best to make sure your approved" (paraphrased, of course). I found this extremely encouraging...

    keep your fingers crossed for me!
    Tom

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,727

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    What happened to your signature line? Very apropos. Had to think about it a minute. My latin is rusty.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    I'm assuming she's researching your facilities to be approved for commercial operations? What were the defining elements between hobby and commercial?
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Gage County, Nebraska, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    Eikel - Yes, I assume that the same thing (that she's researching). The intent of the conversation was start to explore the requirements for a commercial operation. I determined that she didn't know Nebraska's requirements either (having moved from NC this summer), but in the countless hours of research I've done, I have found nothing...I'm hoping she has better resources.

    JWPalmer: not sure where it went. Posted that from a Mac...maybe that had something to do with it?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    Best of luck to you. When I was looking at the tax side of commercial vs hobbyist the paperwork difference was substantial, reinforced my position of I don't want to be considered commercial. Great for the commercial folks but too much of a pain for me.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    34,541

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    At least in Illinois I believe the colloquial/layman's distinction lies on the line between wholesale and retail. If you sell directly to the consumer you're considered a hobbyist and fall under the cottage industries regulations. If there's any middlemen between you and the consumer you're commercial. My interpretation of "consignment" sales doesn't violate the cottage regulations any more than a roadside honesty stand as ownership never transfers to the shop owner, they only oversee the funds transfer. The Navy referred those dispensing this type of legal interpretation as S%$&house lawyers, caveat emptor.
    If one sells their honey to a store and that store sells to the public, isn't the store the customer of the honey producer?
    Mark Berninghausen

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: What part of processing is processing?

    As I remember there is a statement similar to "directly to the consumer." I went back to some of my records for where the difference between the wholesale and retail was defined, ran across the honey house inspection regulation. I was amazed at the "left to interpretation" of paragraph C, reminds me of the "We had Grandma for dinner last night!" punctuation exercise.

    (410 ILCS 650/7 new)
    Sec. 7. Honey.
    (a) For the purpose of this Section, "honey house" means
    any stationary or portable building or any room or place within
    a building that is used for the purpose of extracting,
    processing, or other handling of honey.
    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the
    Department may not regulate honey that is in the comb or that
    is removed from the comb and in an unadulterated condition;
    both forms of honey are exempt from the provisions of this Act.
    (c) If a producer is engaged in the sale of honey that is
    left in the comb or removed from the comb in an unadulterated
    condition at a local market and packs or sells less than 500
    gallons of honey produced in this State per year, then the
    Department may not regulate or inspect the producer's honey
    house.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

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