Your Honey is Probably Fake

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Do you know what makes honey, honey? I know this seems like a silly question, but the simple answer is what led to a huge uncovering of honey fraud. The presence of pollen in honey means the honey is legitimate; even the FDA agrees with that sentiment.

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.

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.

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A Food Safety News test revealed that 60 different store-bought honey samples utterly failed to show any pollen at all. This means that most store-bought honey is fraudulent, not real honey.

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.

I know what you might be thinking at this juncture, which is “what if the producer removes the pollen for some reason and the honey is still real honey?” Not likely, my friends:

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.

 “In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” he added.
Also, McDonald’s and KFC honey packs proved to be crap. No surprises there, of course.
How can you avoid this travesty? You can buy your honey from local honey producers at farmer’s markets or even Whole Foods. Buying your honey at Costco is rolling the dice. In the end, locally produced honey is so much better anyways. You can taste the care and passion put into the product. These big corporate machines don’t care about you or your health; they are just trying to make a buck.

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