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.

BY: Rob Kerby

 

Continued from page 5

honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin, reports Schneider.

MostU.S.honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions, but because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, they didn’t raise any alarm.

“The FDA — either because of lack of interest or resources — devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey,” writes Schneider. “Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.”

In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped toCanadaand then on to a warehouse inHoustonwhere it was sold to several major suppliers.

Eventually, some honey packers became worried about what they were pumping into the plastic bears and jars they were selling. They began using in-house or private labs to test for honey diluted with inexpensive high fructose corn syrup or 13 other illegal sweeteners or for the presence of illegal antibiotics. But even the most sophisticated of these tests could not pinpoint the geographic source of the honey.

 Food scientists and honey specialists say pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey’s source.

U.S. Customs and Justice Department investigators told Schneider that wheneverU.S.food safety or criminal experts verify a method to identify potentially illegal honey — such as analyzing the pollen — the laundering operators find a way to thwart it.

The solution: buy from local beekeepers.

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.

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