Just because the label says "Honey" doesn't mean a bee would eat it

According to the honey industry, China is dumping tons of stuff in the United States that a bee wouldn't recognize.

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Nancy Gentry owns the small Cross Creek Honey Company inInterlachen,Fla., and she isn’t worried about the quality of the honey she sells.

“I harvest my own honey. We put the frames in an extractor, spin it out, strain it, and it goes into a jar. It’s honey the way bees intended,” Gentry said.

But the negative stories on the discovery of tainted and bogus honey raised her fears for the public’s perception of honey.

Honey samples

“She spent months of studying what the rest of the world was doing to protect consumers from tainted honey and questioning beekeepers and industry on what was needed here,” writes Schneider. “Gentry became the leading force in crafting language forFloridato develop the nation’s first standard for identification for honey.”

In July 2009,Floridaadopted the standard and placed its Division of Food Safety in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in charge of enforcing it.  It’s since been followed by California, Wisconsin and North Carolina and is somewhere in the state legislative or regulatory maze in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Texas, Kansas, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and others.

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North CarolinaStateUniversitybee expert John Ambrose’s battle for a national definition goes back 36 years, reports Schneider. “He said the issue is of great importance toNorth Carolinabecause it has more beekeepers than any other state in the country.

“He and others tried to convince FDA that a single national standard for honey to help prevent adulterated honey from being sold was needed. The agency promised him it would be on the books within two years.”

“But that never happened,” said Ambrose.

Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association’s honey standards says the language is very simple, “Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that’s adulteration,” Ambrose told Food Safety News.

But still, he says he’s asked all the time how to ensure that you’re buying quality honey.  “The fact is, unless you’re buying from a beekeeper, you’re at risk,” he advised.

Eric Silva, counsel for the American Honey Producers Association said the standard is a simple but essential tool in ensuring the quality and safety of honey consumed by millions of Americans each year.

“Without it, the FDA and their trade enforcement counterparts are severely limited in their ability to combat the flow of illicit and potentially dangerous honey into this country,” he said Silva.

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Rob Kerby
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