Honey Grading

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Honey grading

In the United States, honey is graded based on USDA standards that factor four characteristics of honey; water content, clarity, flavor, and absence of defects. The purpose of honey grading is to determine the overall quality and taste of a particular batch of honey. Although grading is performed on a voluntarily basis, US honey is graded on an A, B, and C scale with an additional category for substandard honey. Typically, grade A honey can be found on store shelves, whereas lower grades are used in commercial food production.


There are four determining factors that are used to establish the grade of a particular honey, water content, flavor and aroma, lack of defects, and overall clarity. 50 points are awarded for flavor and aroma, 40 for the absence of defects, and 10 for honey clarity. Additionally, grade A and B require less than 18.6% water content, C less than 20%, where substandard honey would have over 20% water content.

Honey Grades
Grade A Honey:
Less than 18.6% Water Content
Natural Floral Flavor and Aroma
Trace Amounts of Pollen or Particles
Clear Appearance without Air Bubbles
Grade B Honey:
Less than 18.6% Water Content
Good to Normal Floral Flavor and Aroma
Reasonably Free of Pollen and Particles
Appearance is Clear with Trace Amounts of Air Bubbles
Grade C Honey:
Less than 20% Water Content
Fairly Good Floral Flavor and Aroma
Appearance of Suspended Pollen Grains and Air Bubbles
Substandard Honey:
Contains Over 20% Water
Fails Flavor, Aroma, and Clarity Test 


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