Honey Laundering

Good reason to purchase only certified organic honey, even if it is more expensive.

From Mother Jones:  http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/supermarkets-sell-fake-honey

By Tom Philpott
Mon Nov. 7, 2011

Peruse the sweetener shelf of a US supermarket, and you’ll find an array of bear-shaped jars glistening with golden honey, all of it priced to move.

Ever wonder why the ongoing collapse of US honeybee populations hasn’t caused a scarcity of honey or a spike in prices? I think the ace investigative reporter Andrew Schneider of Food Safety News might have the answer. In an August investigation, Schneider revealed:

A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

Today, Schneider is back with a new report, already highlighted by my colleague Stephanie Mencimer but worth delving into more.

Schneider rounded up more than 60 samples of honey from retailers in 10 states and the District of Columbia and had them analyzed at a Texas A&M University lab. The result: Three-quarters of the samples were “ultra-filtered”—a process in which honey is “heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey.”

That last bit is key. When you strip honey of its pollen, it becomes impossible to trace its origins. Chinese honey routinely has been found to contain additives and contaminants. To avoid scrutiny in countries like the United States, China’s honey industry has been funneling its product into other nations like India. The ultra-filtering process appears to be a honey-laundering tool, Schneider reports.

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/supermarkets-sell-fake-honey

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