What’s in your honey, honey?

I just read this fascinating article from Food Safety News about honey. I had no idea that honey was such a dirty business!

Apparently over 75% of honey sold in US grocery stores isn’t strictly “honey”. It’s been “ultra-filtered”, a process that removes the natural pollen from the honey. A process whose only purpose appears to be to disguise the origin of the honey.

There are laboratories in the US that can determine the origin of honey by the different pollen contained within it. By ultra-filtering the honey, it becomes impossible to determine where the honey came from.

Ultra-filtering involves heating the honey, potentially watering it down, and then forcing it through extremely fine filters to remove the pollen.

The process appears to have sprung from the high tariffs imposed on China’s honey producers in 2001 that were aimed at protecting the local US honey industry. The Chinese producers responded by ultra-filtering the honey and transshipping it through other countries without the tariffs – changing labels to hide the originating country in the meantime.

A fascinating insight into a small, dark corner of the food industry.

One Reply to “What’s in your honey, honey?”

  1. Being able to determine the origin of foods is rather important, as articles like this make clear: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15618700

    I found an article from the Daily Mail related to this issue, which paints the EU as villains for wanting honey sold in the EU to declare its pollen content. The article dodges the significance of the origination issue – it’s basically written by a pro-business sock-puppet. The Mail has a reputation of being tendentious scum, and this article should enhance that reputation.


Leave a Reply