The Honey Scandal You NEED to Know!

You go to your local grocery store and you see a shelf full of honey. So which one do you add to the cart? 5221223251_d2b000c56f_oMany non honey connoisseurs go for the cute plastic bear with the squeeze top, right? He’s cute, non messy, and for some strange reason a honey filled plastic bear just makes you think, honey! I can see where you’re coming from; growing up my Mother and Nana always bought the cute plastic bear too! Most of us are used to associating honey with the cute bear, so we continue to be consumers of the same products we grew up with. That’s basic consumer psychology and for many years it has worked. But switching up your lifestyle also means the lifestyle you had before was lacking in some way. Well, lets talk “honey”.

3 out of 4 times when you purchase honey from your local grocer it won’t be real honey. Or how about this statistic; 100% of honey found in your local drug store is not real honey. Oh, and that cheap honey filled plastic bear? You can usually spot him on the shelf at your local drug store, therefore in respectable terms, he is a fake. I got these statistics from this website but you don’t need a news article to tell you whats in your “honey.” I’m going to explain some tips and tricks on how to spot fake honey!

How Producers Fool Honey Consumers6704937889_2e1177c5bb_b

Now, I’m not saying every bear shaped bottle contains fake honey and I’m not saying every regular looking bottle or jar contains real honey either. Producers are smart. They aren’t going to just produce a product that states on the front “this honey you are about to purchase is fake.” That would be stupid on their part and virtually they would make no money. Instead, they will try to sugar coat (no pun intended) their product by using fancy words like; 100% pure, all natural, choice grade, clover honey, alfalfa honey, choice, orange blossom, 100%. Virtually producers can say whatever they want about  their”honey” with slim to no regulation.

Here is the issue, the FDA has failed to constitute a regulation about the amount of pollen a “honey” product must contain in order to be called 100% pure honey. Or if actual honey must contain any amount of pollen to be labeled “honey.”

Here is the FDA’s definition of honey:

“What is honey?

Reference materials in the public domain define honey as “a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers and store in honeycombs.” 2,3 FDA has concluded that this definition accurately reflects the common usage of the term “honey.”

This is the most recent FDA information and guidelines regarding the labeling of honey, posted in April 2014. And in no way do these guidelines mention anything about pollen. Hmmmm…

Why does pollen matter?12622731023_b6259e2028_k

Pollen is found naturally in unfiltered raw honey, that’s the way nature/bees have done it for centuries. Pollen is where you get all your health promoting perks from. Without pollen, you might as well be consuming corn syrup (and some of us literally do, unknowingly). The FDA states in their guidelines that any “honey” product that contains any additional sugar substance such as corn syrup must be labeled, “Blend of honey and Sugar” or “Blend of Sugar and Honey”… I’m being 100% honest here, maybe I wasn’t looking well enough, but I have never seen a honey product with this humorous label, maybe because no one would buy it!

You can however read the food label which should list the added sugars in the ingredients section. But there’s a twist to that too. Unfortunately, added sugars are only the small problem with the US honey market. There are much bigger issues and scandals going on that are much more hidden from the general public.

How Foreign Producers get Around the Labeling Roadblock

According to the first article I mentioned above, China has been a long time honey supplier around the world. I had never been aware of this; partially because I never looked into it until now. So I will share with you the role, big role that, China plays in our honey supply here in the US. Basically most of the honey you will find in the grocery store is imported to the US from other countries. This poses some major issues that most times go unseen to our countries regulators and then mystery honey makes its way 2375899830_0f8be810be_binto the US food supply.

In 2001 China was producing dirt cheap honey; pumped with illegal and dangerous antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, and who knows what else. These substances are very dangerous and can be fatal to some! The US was importing this cheap honey and putting our countries hard working bee keepers straight out of business. So, the Federal Trade Commission, imposed heavier taxes on importation to discourage the cheap Chinese honey. But China is more clever than this and they found a way to cheat the system. How? They sold to other countries; changed all the packaging, got rid of any imported tracking evidence, and then put a tax free country of origin on the products, and voila “incognito” Chinese honey continued to make its way into the US. Many knew of this scandal because the honey prices in America continued to be significantly low, but nothing was or has been done thus far.

So how do Chinese producers still get away with this scandal today? Like I said above “honey” producers are clever. They ultra-filter the honey, which removes all the pollen and therefore the origin of the honey cannot be tracked. Now, ultra-filtering honey is prohibited in the US, but when this law is not enforced, most times ultra-filtered honey still makes its way into our country. And therefore “if” the time arises to investigate and test this honey, its too late. The FDA’s import office also states, they doubt they check any more than 5% of all imported honey. Talk about scary. And since the FDA has no guidelines stating honey must contain an X amount of pollen it all gets pushed under the carpet. Even lab testing cannot track what the heck is in this ultra-filtered honey or where it came from. To me, that’s always a scary thing. And even scarier the FDA has failed to diligently investigate this issue.

There is Hope – How to get your Paws on REAL Honey5939768635_c45da46e9b_z!

Unfortunately, it’s hard to be 110% sure where your honey comes from, what it contains, and how its processed. All this can affect the overall quality of honey you’re consuming. Your constantly taking a risk, especially when buying from a grocery store or chain super market. When you can’t truly contact the person or people who produced a particular honey, you’re taking an even bigger risk. And if you want to count on trust, there is not much trust to be had when it comes to the mystery honey market. I do have some good news though. Call me old fashioned, but the answer lies right in your back yard… Buy Local!

  • My best advice: do not buy honey at a drug store, grocery store, or quick stops. If you must, aim for organically labeled honey. When put to the test most organic honeys contain a good amount of pollen, will not contain any chemicals, and therefore will most likely be closest to the real deal.
  • Instead you can try a local health food store, specialty shop, “Whole Foods,” Coop, Farmers Market, but your best bet is to get it straight from a local farm or apiary! You can check out this site, enter your zip code and find a local honey distributor near you! Say no to Fake Mr. Plastic Bear. Find me Real Honey!
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the sellers personally, you can do that when the honey is produced in mere miles of your house vs. half way across the world. I’m sure they will prove to be very friendly and will want to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Supporting local can build you some lifelong friendships as well as growing the community you reside in.
  • Be sure to ask if their honey is raw, unfiltered, and unheated. This is the real deal stuff that contains the most pollen; the stuff you want when you purchase honey; bee wings, antennas and all! This is kind of a joke, but don’t be surprised if you purchase raw honey and find a few impurities, this is good, this is normal, this is fresh!
  • Quality honey is not cheap, so don’t be cheap when purchasing it. Bee keepers work hard, and must go through a long dedicated process when making honey. Spend the extra $5 on REAL honey, otherwise you might as well go buy a $1 bottle of corn syrup and suffer the consequences… I’m begging you not to do that!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Once you start buying real deal honey you may notice variations in color, taste, and texture throughout the year. This is normal, and the apiary you purchase your honey at can consult you on why honey quality fluctuates.
    • But if you intuitively think about this, it makes sense, especially if you live in New England. We have four season in the year, our temperatures are all over the place, and we constantly have different flowers and plants blooming according to the season. So it makes sense for different season honey quality to naturally fluctuate.

I hope I have enlightened you a bit on the secrets behind the honey world. Feel free to reference this article it contains a lot of extensive information about the honey scandal. Of course I urge you to spread the word, spread the knowledge, because many people don’t know. We are all innocent by standers until we know better. Then it is our duty to do something. Strive to know better, strive for change, and push others to do the same. Support health, support holistic living, support local, support others, and most importantly support YOURSELF! Thanks for reading 🙂


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