"Honey Laundering": Most Honey Sold In US Stores is Fake

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Wed, May 29, 2013 - 1:24pm

Testing conducted by Food Safety News finds that most honey sold in retail stores in the US isn't "honey".

Surprised? I was.

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Filtering out the pollen is more costly and reduces the health value and shelf-life of the final product. So why do it? To mask the orgins of where the 'honey' came from:

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where 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. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.

The food safety divisions of the  World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Removal of all pollen from honey “makes no sense” and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.

“I don’t know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey,” Jensen said.

“There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there’s nothing good about it,” he says.

In addition to using harmful pesiticides and antibiotics, this "laundered" honey is often diluted with corn syrup and other illegal sweeteners.

Food Safety News funded testing of 'honey' from the major sellers. Here are the top-line results:

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.

Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:

  • 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
  • 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
  • 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.
  • Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

Food Saftey News' report is worth reading in full.

Just one more validating reason why keeping bees is important... 

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Beekeeping Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our active community of bee enthusiasts share information, insights and knowledgable daily discussion to help each other support and nuture the pollinators our food supply is so dependent on. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

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10 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1795
List of labels found to contain fake honey

Here are the labels found to contain no pollen from the Food Safety News study cited above

ptwisewoman's picture
ptwisewoman
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 18 2008
Posts: 54
Fake honey

While I am no longer surprised by the adulterating, faking, poisoning and contaminating of the food supply by entities trying to make food growing and processing into a manufacturing activity that makes money, I do find myself more and more irritated, angered, frustrated and furious that it continues and that people, at least in America, can't seem to stop buying food from the grocery store.  Apparently death by slow poison is easier than growing your own food, buying from local producers and exchanging with neighbors doing the same.  My grandmother, who ate her honey every morning on a big homemade biscuit with homemade sausage would be horrified by the latest example of food system contamination.  And my grandfather would be ranting as much as I have over this the last few days.

Good gracious, what will it take for people to stop supporting this madness!

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 611
good find

I've captures 3swarms this year. this is also our first foundationless year. so far so good  robie

Tycer's picture
Tycer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 26 2009
Posts: 553
robie robinson wrote: . this

robie robinson wrote:

. this is also our first foundationless year. so far so good  robie

Are you still using Langstroths or did you go top bar?

rayne's picture
rayne
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 29 2012
Posts: 23
Another reason to only shop at PCC

PCC had a long article about this a few months ago.  I had no idea!  Shopping at the natural market is expensive but FOOD is expensive!  Real food at least.  It seems to be another way to hide inflation.  In order to keep the cost of honey down we must be sold something that isn't honey?  No thanks.  I'd rather have less money and more health.

maceves's picture
maceves
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 279
honey

Looked in the kitchen, and sure enough, two of those offending jars were right there on the shelf.  One trip to the weekly neighborhood market and there were three different honey makers right there.  So I got the honey  from just a few miles from my house (bartlet pear) even though that tupelo honey was mighty tempting.  I have learned a lesson in all of this. 

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 507
To Bee Or Not To Bee

There is a bee-keeper's supply store an hour's drive from my place. They sell supplies and products of the hive. Part of my overall preparations were to buy a couple of 5 gallon buckets of locally produced honey. As long as you keep moisture from it, it never spoils. It has crystallized completely (as far as I can tell without opening it. Tipping it on its side for a few hours and it rolls as uniformly as it did before tipping it.) If it weren't pure, it wouldn't crystallize.

It always bothers me that the cutesy plastic bear bottled honey flows like thick syrup. Perhaps, it is just thickened syrup with a dash of honey added as a flavoring agent. I can't remember seeing any of them ever having a hint of crystals.

If you can't produce your own honey, check for locally produced honey. I just checked craigslist and found several local businesses selling honey. I'm sure they'd let me see their operations if I asked. Does it get better than that? That is the real question. ;-)

Grover

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 611
top bar

i started with the top bar hives which are mostly foundationless. An issue i had with the,and in part why we have more foundationless langstroths,top bar hives was the tendency of the bees to keep brood in the middle of the TB and stores on either end. no prblem one might say till winter comes and the cluster follows 1/2 of the honey trail to the end only to starve. there were plenty of stores at the other end of the hive but alas bees at 20degrees F don't move. there is a reason the TB hive is also called the Kenyan Tob Bar. i still have TB hives but have to manage them(which isn't as easy)more closely then langstroths. i'm following Michael Bush http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm. robie

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 611
foundationless note

10 days ago caught a swarm. Put 'em in a 5 deep frame nuc box the frames are wedge type where ive broken the wedge out reinserted at 90 degrees and stapled in place, this is to give bees encouragement to draw straight comb and have strong attachment. last eve. i went to move them into a permanent 8 frame langstroth deep. the frames in the nuc all had 50% or more comb alreadydrawn heavy with flow and several of them broke loose and made quite a mess. had they been on foundation none of this would have happened.

foodiesmart27's picture
foodiesmart27
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 14 2013
Posts: 1
Fake Honey

I also noticed that farmer collected or real honey crystalizes in a couple of months. The other stuff stays the same for a longer period of time. You can still scoop out what you need with a spoon and it will melt down again. To make a honey mustard vinegar salad dressing, I scooped out a tablespoon of completely crystalized honey into a warm bowl and it slowly metlind down again. yes

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