After my post revealing the shocking truth about olive oil adulteration, I received a number of outraged comments along the lines of this one: “Is nothing sacred? First honey, and now this?!!!”
My interest was piqued. Honey? Since when was my honey fake?
Oh, I’d known about the fake “honey” they serve in single-serving packets at restaurants and cafeterias. That’s because I read the ingredients label. Almost all of them fessed up to being what they are — honey-flavored corn syrup. But I didn’t know that the vast majority of the major labels of honey sold in the U.S. aren’t real honey. Thankfully, I always buy mine from one of two local farms. My favorite is from a little old lady who keeps bees just a few miles from me. The other is from a farm in the town next door. According to my recent research, that means I’m safe. But those rows and rows of non-local honey from major distributors found in the supermarket? Those aren’t safe. In fact, they’re almost guaranteed to be fake.
According to the FDA (as well as the food safety divisions of the World Health Organization and the European Commission), the one test that authenticates honey is the presence of pollen. If the liquid gold doesn’t contain pollen, it isn’t honey.
This prompted Food Safety News to test more than 60 different samples of store bought honey for pollen. The results were damning:
76% of grocery store “honey” had no pollen in it!
When buying from drug stores like Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS, the failure rate went as high as 100%!
The good news is that every sample bought from farmers’ markets, co-ops, and natural food stores was loaded with pollen. So, as with olive oil, the real stuff is out there. You just have to make sure it was sourced from a single farm or small co-op of farms.
Why is all the pollen missing?
Good question! When asked why the pollen is removed, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association said this:
“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.
This idea is confirmed by Richard Adee, a U.S. honey producer who keeps 80,000 hives. He said:
“There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there’s nothing good about it. It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China.”
In the normal honey-making process, honey is filtered to remove bee parts, waxes, and other debris. This routine filtration is no cause for alarm. Almost all the pollen remains intact in the honey, and it helps make a slightly more shelf-stable product.
But when you purposefully use ultra-filtration — a high-temperature, high-pressure extraction process — you remove all the pollen. Without the pollen, the origin of the honey is untraceable.
Why are these companies bothering to hide the honey’s origin?
Because it’s likely to have come from China, and Chinese honey is cheap, diluted with high-fructose corn syrup and sweeteners, and tainted with crazy chemicals and antibiotics.
In 2001, Chinese beekeepers experienced an epidemic of the foulbrood disease that ransacked their hives. They fought off the disease with strong animal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol — a carcinogenic antibiotic that’s been banned by the FDA. Recently, the FDA even confiscated $32,000 worth of imported Chinese honey that was contaminated with this drug.
And, get this! The FDA only tests about 5% of imported honey. So who knows how much more of this tainted honey is being smuggled into the U.S.?
Chinese honey is also high in heavy metals.
The Chinese have many state-of-the-art processing plants but their beekeepers don’t have the sophistication to match. There are tens of thousands of tiny operators spread from the Yangtze River and coastal Guangdong and Changbai to deep inland Qinghai province. The lead contamination in some honey has been attributed to these mom-and-pop vendors who use small, unlined, lead-soldered drums to collect and store the honey before it is collected by the brokers for processing.
After enough scandals involving cheap adulterated Chinese honey flooding the American market, the FTC imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese honey in 2001 to try to stop it from being imported.
Of course, that just means that now the Chinese honey is laundered through other Asian and some European countries before being imported to the U.S. Despite the extra cost mark up from these middle-men countries, laundered Chinese “honey” is still cheaper than U.S. honey. So, it’s still getting bought and distributed. And, to hide this alarming fact, honey suppliers are ultra-filtering their so-called honey to hide its origins.
As recently as last year, U.S. District Attorneys arrested a number of individuals who had ties to a global honey laundering conspiracy involving the largest honey importer in the country.
After the U.S. tariffs were levied, ALW, the largest honey importer in the U.S., began networking with Chinese honey producers and brokers desperate to unload cheap products.
In exchange for contracts with ALW, honey brokers agreed to move Chinese-origin honey to Russia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, according to court documents.
The brokers also agreed to repackage the honey and muddy its trail by using a series of shell companies to ship it to the U.S. That meant falsifying country of origin certificates and, in some cases, deliberately mislabeling honey as molasses, fructose or glucose syrup so customs officials would not notice a suspect increase in honey shipments. Brokers were told to hire specific labs that specialized in filtering the honey to remove markers (such as pollen or soil) that could be used to trace shipments back to their true origin, according to court documents that outline the U.S. government’s case.
But beekeeper Richard Adee wasn’t hopeful about the arrests, or the uncovered conspiracy. He said, “It’s kind of like they’re running a car-stealing ring. You catch the guy stealing the car and put him out of business. But the guy that’s laundering, the chop shop or the packer, he just finds another supplier.” (source)
Where can you find REAL honey?
Your first priority should be to stick with buying local honey from a single farm or small co-op. This is always guaranteed to be real.
If you don’t know of any local suppliers or have a hard time finding them, chances are fair to medium-good that if you stick to organic store-bought honey, it will be real. The Food Safety News study revealed that five out of seven “organic” honeys contained pollen, meaning only 28% failed.
Yet, if you’re like me, that 28% failure rate is still unconscionable.
In that case, I highly recommend you check out this online supplier of honey, who I personally vouch for. (I know the family behind this company, and they’re good people!)
(where to find REAL honey)
(photo by melz)
Jan's Sushi Bar says
I knew commercial honey was inferior, of course, but I never imagined this. Thank goodness I know my bee keeper – retired, he used to be a state inspector for Ohio’s commercial honey industry. We can go to his farm, see his hives, and watch him do nothing more than strain and bottle his liquid gold. It is nothing short of exquisite.
I was never a honey eater until a few years ago when I discovered that local, raw honey may be good for allergies because of its pollen content. So, I’ve basically *always* bought REAL honey from a local beekeeper. That’s my only excuse for being oblivious to this news story for a whole year!
Yes KristenM I heard that too, and this spring I bought honey from a local friend who keeps bees as a hobby. My seasonal allergies have never been so mild during the spring and summer since eating her honey!
Joyness Sparkles says
Recently we heard this information and it just makes me sad! We do not buy honey at all anymore. Bees can travel upwards around 2 miles to get pollen to their hives and the farmer selling it may be organic, but the plants they are getting their honey from may be filled with pesticides and whatnot (somewhere out there someone tested honey for pesticides and other “cides” and found high contents even from organic farms). So while I want to support the organic bee farmers, I just cannot risk putting that into our bodies.
Bees can travel up to 12 miles to find pollen.
Pollen spores can drift hundreds of miles, given the right wind. Guess that means you better quit breathing, too, lest you breathe in some of them. And for that matter, organic farms can be victim to unintentional cross pollination from other non-organic farms, even when the organic farms aren’t located near “dirty” ones.
Everything else is contaminated too, better stop eating all together.
melanie keck says
WOW! who knew all that. They are starting to label the honey that is flavored corn syrup. I hate that everyting you buy in the supermarket is soooo overprocessed. They tell us it is for our own safety, “We ultra filter it to make sure that it is safe for you” Bull crap! We hear false stuff like that all over the place. I am tired of it. This is why I come here and link up with you. Thank you for fight back fridays.
The other day I was shocked to see “Sugar free honey substitute” on a honey bear. I did not even look at the label to see what unrecognizable things were in it. I thought to myself “who are they trying to fool, or what kind of fool do they think that I am.” The sad thing is I know people who are diabetic who would buy the silly stuff thinking that it helps them control their blood sugar. EAT REAL FOOD PEOPLE! THEN YOU WON’T HAVE DIABETES.
We have been talking about raising our own bees. I think that we may have many good reason to start in the spring. I wish it were spring already. Maybe we can bless others by selling real honey to them. Thank you for a great post as always
Jan's Sushi Bar says
That “sugar free honey substitute” is nothing more than colored/flavored maltitol syrup – sugar alcohols. I’m ashamed to admit I’m far too familiar with the product (and its less than desirable side-effects) from my low carb days.
Laura @ Stealthy Mom says
Remember “Isomalt?” Once I ate a bag of sugar-free Creamsavers during my commute, then learning about the “possibility of a laxative” the hard way. I barely made it home. Not good, not good at all.
“EAT REAL FOOD PEOPLE! THEN YOU WON’T HAVE DIABETES.”
This is not true. I was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes at age 5. Eating “real” food would not get rid of my diabetes as type 1 is an auto immune disease. There are those of us who like/enjoy the taste of certain foods, but can’t have the “real” type, so we have no other choice but to buy the other stuff. Luckily I was able to get a transplant recently and no longer am diabetic. I can now buy, and eat, the real stuff.
Okay. This is a little late (just found this site today), but I have to say something here about the above comment: “Eat real food people! Then you won’t have diabetes.”
Ummm… yeah. While I totally advocate a whole/natural/local diet, I am diabetic and it has nothing to do with what I ate. While Type II diabetes can result from poor diet and exercise, Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, which can only be controlled through insulin injections. This forces me to either consume sugar substitutes or give myself a large dose of insulin (not the cheapest drug, especially if you are without insurance). Could I just not consume sweet/high carb things? Yes, but it’s not going to happen 100% of the time.
Sorry for the rant, but I felt the need to clarify.
I agree with you that raw/real food is best. But that won’t cure diabetes in someone who physically can’t produce insulin because of a genetic defect.
“Eat real food people! Then you won’t have diabetes.”
Type 1 diabetes is genetic but it’s not the fault of the child that get’s it. It’s the parents and what they eat and how that genetics has changed down the line.
Look at cultures that does no suffer from these illness and you will see how natural their food sources are.
I agree with the poster that said: “Eat real food people! Then you won’t have diabetes.”
I know I am super late to this party, but as an epigeneticist, I can confidently state that the statement “It’s the parents and what they eat” is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in relation to the causes of genetic disease, and to diabetes in particular. This kind of misinformation harms people, physically and emotionally.
Brenda Saydak via Facebook says
That’s why I only buy local honey.
Diana Bartch via Facebook says
I know where my honey comes from! It’s real and it’s OH so good! 🙂 Real, unheated honey actually has real flavor! Mmmmmm!
Cari Howat via Facebook says
I’m lucky enough to live within 10 minutes of at least 3 different local honey sources. I haven’t bought “honey” at the store in years.
Carrie Stutler Dunham via Facebook says
I buy local honey by the gallon!
Maggie Goodman Russell via Facebook says
we discovered our high end tupilo from a big distributer of whole earth grocery had to be laced with corn syrup…..I could smell it when we drizzeld it over baked grapfruit….I want my 8 bucs back!
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Maggie Goodman Russell — So disappointing!
Erin Burke Edwards via Facebook says
I know ours is real– it comes from about 50 feet away from our house:)
Allie Fread Bernier via Facebook says
Thanks so much for sharing this! I’d had this discussion with someone a while back and couldn’t find any good information. Passing this one along!
Michele Moore Cooper via Facebook says
Thanks for sharing. I recently switched to local raw honey, and thanks to your post about olive oil, I only purchase that local as well.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Allie Fread Bernier — You’re welcome.
Kelly Alpacapeople via Facebook says
Another food item to be wary of is Olive Oil. I buy our honey in 5 gallon buckets from an Amish family we know.
Alice Rogers Geer via Facebook says
Must read this!!!
Becky Long via Facebook says
This does not refute the claim, but does put it into perspective. The take home lesson is that the only way to know about your food is to know the source first hand.
Thanks, interesting read
Lauran Clark Robinson via Facebook says
Do you ever feel alone in this battle for healthy real organic food? I have 600 friends on Facebook and maybe 1 or 2 of them actually believe in real food… I wish everyone felt strongly about processed foods and putting fake garbage stuff in your body!
Lauran, There are lots of “communities” on Facebook that believe as you do. Usually, if you find one you’ll find links to many others. There is a large movement against the corporate take over of our food chain and I believe most Americans feel, in varying degrees, as you do. Don’t give up! If you need a start point to search out like minded individuals, try Occupy Gardening. It’s not as political as the name would suggest, just real food advocates sharing and supporting each other.
Sally Melrose via Facebook says
wow – thx – will share!
Amanda Slinkard via Facebook says
Lauran, you are speaking my language!
Wendy Hallgren via Facebook says
So glad I have a bee keeper friend! Wish I knew how to get local olive oil! But don’t think there is such a thing in Michigan.
Karen Joy says
I always liked to buy local honey… but when I heard about this phenomenon a few years ago, I stepped up my efforts to ENSURE I bought local honey. I get mine from the Honeyman in Prescott Valley, AZ. It’s raw, THICK, and wonderful.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Becky Long — I think the president of the American Honey Producers Association would say that it ISN’T honey. It’s MADE FROM honey. Basically, ultra-filtration fundamentally changes the end product. You start by DILUTING THE HONEY with water, then extracting the water through high-temperature, high-pressure machines to get something like a syrup. But it’s still watered down, pale, and pollen-less. One of the major health benefits of eating real honey is the pollen! Plus, I really believe that the only way to have a pollen-less product is through ultra-filtration. Normal filtration, even the kind using diatamacious earth described in that NPR story, may remove *some* pollen, but not ALL.
Ultra-filtration changes the product, but the NPR article claimed that there was another way to remove the pollen that was not ultra-filtration, and that’s with the use of DE, which is then removed as part of the processing.
Gosh, I’m sorry. I didn’t read all of your comment before posting. But why don’t you believe DE could remove it? Do you have a background in food chemistry? You sound well-informed and certain, which is why I wondered.
Allison Joi Burgueno via Facebook says
I don’t ever think I’ve bought non-honey. Honestly, you can’t get away with that kind if bs where I shop.
Lyn Coleman Dominguez via Facebook says
Eat local raw honey and support the people who put out a quality food product for our health.
Allison Joi Burgueno via Facebook says
Living in California, most people I know are food freedom fighters.
Diane McCuistion Speed via Facebook says
I’m a beekeeper so this is a topic near & dear to my heart. I’ve been promising friends a blog post on this very issue but have yet to get to it. Hope you don’t mind if I put a link to yours in for a quickie post for now.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Diane McCuistion Speed — Why would I mind that? You guys are always welcome to link up to my stuff. The only thing I mind is if someone copies what I write word for word and then passes it off as their own writing. That’s way different than posting excerpts or quotes and linking back to my site! Also, I’d really be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. I read one article that quoted Richard Adee (the beekeeper I quoted in this article) as saying that the beekeepers he knows have just “given up” the fight; they were so hopeless and helpless to stop the “honey laundering” schemes being perpetrated.
I am a beekeeper living in Accokeek Maryland. I have two thriving hives and work with a local bee keeping educator and mentor, Stephano Briguglio. He and his wife Heidi and son Azure own and operate AzureB LLC. They are passionate about bee education and natural beekeeping. Something folks don’t think about is how even local beekeepers supplement and feed their bees. There are a number of fungicides, antibiotics, vitamins and feeding stimulates etc. on the market which some folks swear on and others (like me) think mess with the colonies natural defense mechanisms as well as the honey crop. Another important aspect of beekeeping that I have not seen mentioned in these conversations is how and what the bees are being fed. In a perfect world bees are provided a plethora of pollen and nectar from a variety of sources and supplemental feeding is not needed. Unfortunately with global warming, over use of pesticides on neighboring farms, overdevelopment, etc. etc. of many areas food sources for the bees can be compromised. In Maryland we are suffering with a severe drought and with that comes limited food sources for my bees. In times like these particularly early in the season when the bees are building their comb if the bees food supply is not supplemented they will starve. I feed my bees organic cane sugar made into a syrup with spring water. The organic sugar is not cheap. Unfortunately many keepers cannot afford organic sugar and use regular bleached conventional table sugar or worse high fructose corn syrup. I’m still fairly new to beekeeping and feel passionate about it. I want to provide my bees with the most natural and healthy environment possible. They are critical to our existence and as I work the bees with my nine year old son I get a glimmer of hope that through him change is possible. Thanks to all for indulging my rant. If any of you come across a product line called .BonnieB. Botanics which consists of body products (lotions, scrubs, essential oil blends and more) teas, candles and of course HONEY) you can rest and know its the real deal! Peace!
Andrea Alden via Facebook says
Where is the “BOOO” button! That sucks! I love cooking with honey. I guess I should have known… Thank goodness i have a farmer’s market close by!
Nancy Flaws Hart via Facebook says
Does this also include my raw honey I have been buying?
Paula Dryden via Facebook says
always buy your honey local because it is the best if you have any allergy problems, for example, don’t buy that junk on the shelf and don’t buy from CA if you live in PA.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Nancy Flaws Hart — That depends on how it’s sourced. Is the honey from a single farm? A small co-op? Or is it a widely distributed brand of honey sourced from international honey suppliers?
Jacqueline DeCesari via Facebook says
Is there a test to find out if the honey has been watered down or corn syrup has been added ?
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Jacqueline DeCesari — Yes, testing for this can be done in labs. There is no home test that YOU can do, though, if that’s what you mean.
Jane Andrew via Facebook says
so what good is the FDA?
The FDA exists to make you “feel” safe about your food and drugs. Just think, most generic heart medications are now made in China, but there has never been an in plant inspection because the Chinese government doesn’t recognise our inspectors as having authority. We also still have animal “treats” sweetened with anti-freeze that is killing American pets. Surely you didn’t think that the health and welfare of Americans would come before profits, did you?
Nancy Flaws Hart via Facebook says
I live in Western NC and this says it is from the Blue Ridge Mountains , near Ashville , NC- 3 hours from here. Local enough???
Gina Reaves Palmer via Facebook says
Wow, good to know!
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Nancy Flaws Hart — It may be, depending on your standards. I know it would be for me, although ideally I’d want it closer. But the key here isn’t local vs. non-local, but single producer farm vs. internationally sourced distributor. So, even if it’s a honey packaged and distributed “locally”, it can still be sourced from international imports in addition to U.S. suppliers. It’s kinda like how Fritos advertisements a few years back started claiming that Fritos were “local” because the Fritos plants were nearby. Um… no! That’s co-oping an otherwise useful word just because a factory or distribution center is nearby.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Nancy Flaws Hart — In other words, you want to source from a PRODUCER of honey, not a DISTRIBUTOR. Most nationally-available brands are simply honey distributors that buy honey from U.S. and international suppliers, then filter & re-package it in their own label to sell it in grocery stores. What you want is the opposite of that. You want honey from a nearby beekeeper that actually produces & packages their own honey. Sometimes that’s available on a grocery store shelf, but most of the time it isn’t.
YES! And even so, you want to *really* know your beekeeper. We have had a few local honey scams, one organic beekeeper couldn’t keep up with demand so started rebottling Chinese honey. Another local organic company rebottles Chinese honey and labels it “Made in Canada” because it comes through Canada from China. It is flavored with one of our local beekeeper’s honey, and this is probably the product’s only honey content. Very shameful. Nobody’s checking and it’s profitable. Honey that is 49% HFCS can legally be labeled “100% pure honey” because HFCS is considered “pure.”
Faith Epp via Facebook says
Honey from China? Yuck! This is good to know stuff – thank you.
Samantha Buccellato via Facebook says
I buy local to help with allergies, but now I’m going to make sure I keep doing it to get the real deal.
Becky Long via Facebook says
A local producer we bought from in PA got stretched thin and couldn’t meet his wholesale obligations and started buying in honey from a distributor and no longer knew the source of his honey. He was honest if asked, but didn’t advertise the fact though he assured us that his raw honey was always his. You just have to do the best you can and always feel free to call the source and ask. If they mind, you probably don’t want to support them anyway.
Wow! This is our first year as beekeepers & I am reading everything I can get my hands on! Thank you so much for sharing .. I had no idea!
Brenda K says
Wow!! Thanks for the heads-up! I can’t even remember the last time I bought honey anywhere but a local farmers’ market (except possibly when I lived in Tokyo a few years ago), but I’m sure a lot of my friends get the grocery store stuff, so I’ll be sharing this.
Food With Kid Appeal via Facebook says
i still vividly remember the temper tantrum i had on FB when i learned that most store honey is bee processed HFCS. seriously. we feed fish GMO corn and bees HFCS? it is so hard for me to wrap my brain around living in a country whose businesses and govt don’t mind sickening citizens. do you know how many lost hours of productivity i’ve had this week bec. my youngest needs “training” glasses and vision therapy to learn properly? his eyes muscles and vision skills didn’t develop normally because he developed in my toxic womb, drank my toxic breast milk, then slept on toxic mattresses and in flame-retardant PJs and drank flouridated water. now i as a parent have to miss about 15 billable hours this week to get him evaled, get glasses, and in the next six months i have to yank him from school drive him across town and give him vision therapy so he can get the vision skills he should have gotten just by grabbing at objects and navigated his environment in early childhood. maybe the mattress company profited from this, and the optomitrist is profiting from this but the tech company who pays me to source talent is losing out on my work product. is really an economic advantage to sicken citizens and their offspring. who is counting all the lost productivity $$ to businesses who don’t make toxic caca that employ parents that have to try to undo all the harm done by criminal MFG practices? apparently i’m still having that temper tantrum TWO YEARS LATER.
Carol Hauptman Gluck via Facebook says
Also, if you eat honey from your local area, you get less allergies because of the local pollens in it.
Diane McCuistion Speed via Facebook says
Food Renegade, I didn’t think you’d mind. 🙂 What you said about beekeepers giving up, did you mean giving up on beekeeping in general of giving up fighting the honey laundering?
Diane McCuistion Speed via Facebook says
As far as HFCS, many — maybe most or even all of the bigger commercial beekeepers (small by comparison to the industrial ones but bigger than backyard beekeeps) and quite a large percentage of even backyard beekeepers will feed their bees HFCS. Some will feed them sugar syrup but the HFCS is quicker & easier. It’s what you do when you start up a hive to give them a boost while they get established. Then many will also feed during droughts and other times of stress, and through warm spells in the winter and again when the hive starts getting active in early spring but before natural nectar starts flowing, all to prevent starvation. Conscientious beekeepers will try, however, to keep it to a bare minimum so that, when the nectar starts flowing and the bees are loading up the honey cells that will later be harvested for customers, the beekeepers let nature take over and cut out the man-made feeds. So, if you want to know your beekeepers feeding methods, just ask — but realize that many will do supplemental feedings now & then. (Personally, I won’t feed my bees HFCS but I will feed them a homemade syrup from cane sugar to get new bees established and also if they are in danger of starving and I’ve don’t have enough honeycomb saved back to give them.)
Diane McCuistion Speed via Facebook says
Another thing to be aware of is beeswax. I know many of us in this crowd of crazy neo-hippies make a lot of our own toiletries & goos using beeswax as an additive. Almost all of the beeswax you can buy, even if it says “pure beeswax” is contaminated with the various ‘cides. If you want truly pure, uncontaminated beeswax, you have to hunt down a beekeeper who not only does not treat his/her bees but also uses no commercial foundations or starter strips, nor reuses any hive components that would have wax from any of those systems. The other waxes may not be dripping with the chemicals but they’re in there. Beekeepers have treated with so many things over the years — and still do — and the industry is always coming out with new “cures”… It’s the same as anything in the food industry, I guess. If at all possible, know your farmer. Really get to know him/her and ask lots of questions.
Don Jacobsen via Facebook says
Thanks for all the great info you post. I’m safe I buy from local suppliers.
Brenda Berstler via Facebook says
We guarantee McCoy’s Raw Honey at Savor New York. Buy it locally, folks! http://www.savor-newyork.com/products/New_York_State_Wildflower_Honey_in_Earth_Friendly_Glass_Jars-517-0.html
Dang! With that price structure it doesn’t pay to buy from the big box supermarkets. You should shop your “competition” and compare products. Not that I want higher prices, but we need to keep folks like you in business if your product is as advertised.
Joyce Loflin says
I didn’t read this entire article so I don’t know if this was covered: My honey lady told me that the store bought honey is made from Corn Syrup. The Corn Syrup, according to her, is put in big vats and instead of getting the nectar from flowers and herbs, the bees get it from the vats of Corn Syrup.
That is sometimes true. Traditional beekeeping starts a hive with a lot of bees, a queen, and no nectar, so a conscientious beekeeper will give the bees some kind of sugar syrup as food just until the hive is established.
Once the hive starts filling up with enough of its own nectar, then the beekeeper backs off the added syrups.
With giant commercial beekeeping operations, however, they may never stop this practice. And, instead of a homemade syrup made from sugar and water, they may use HFCS because it’s cheaper.
So, if you’re buying from a single farm and want to know what they feed their bees when they’re establishing new hives, just ask! Almost all farmers LOVE to answer questions about their feeding and farming practices because they take such pride in their work.
Joshua Cole via Facebook says
I so buy my honey from s guy I know he has a apple orchard and has bee’s best honey ever…
Carolyn Smith via Facebook says
Olive oil is fake, too https://www.foodrenegade.com/your-extravirgin-olive-oil-fake/
Robyn Penwell says
So what about maple syrup?
Yes, I want to know about maple syrup too! I heard somewhere that maple syrup from big box stores is actually corn syrup made to imitate maple syrup and labelled falsely, but I can’t find any actual information on this.
Uh, unless you live in a few New England states, all breakfast or pancake syrup is NOT maple syrup. (Usually they don’t even bother to label it ‘maple syrup’ but maple flavored syrup.)
The long and the short of it is the real stuff? Is required by law to be graded, A or B (A light, B dark) and if it’s not got a grade? It’s not maple.
Read about this awhile ago. Good to see it getting more play on real food blogs. Went to Costco the other day and they had honey that was being sold as local.(front label said California honey)I almost got it, but then checked the back label and it said packaged in Texas! I asked how it was Local if it was packaged in Texas. They said they get the honey locally and then ship it to Texas to package. No, thanks- that kind of local is not what I want. Luckily, there are tons of local beekeepers in the SF bay area keeping it real:)
If you want to order real honey online, try Glacier County Honey Company (http://www.glaciercountyhoney.com/). And check our Courtney’s blog, too.
“check out” not “our”
James Kennedy says
This story saddens me. Really only two things come to mind with this story.. Greed & Republicans.
I think you’re too rough on Republicans. I’d bet half my audience is Republicans, and they care just as much about Real Food and sustainable agriculture as you do.
The two don’t go together, sorry. You can’t deregulate business completely and expect the consumer to come out ahead. If our FDA had the correct funding for the important job it is charged with and wasn’t under constant political pressure to “go easy” on business we could simply read the labels and know what to buy. While both major parties have their sellouts, only one makes it a campaign platform.
Pamela Gosnell via Facebook says
I had no idea about HFCS in honey or being fed to bees even by local producers. I get my honey locally from a farmer’s market, but will be asking more questions now. My son has a strong sensitivity to corn syrup (it aggravates his ADHD), and we have completely eliminated it from his diet (at least I thought I had). Didn’t know about things like this not on a label. We try to keep sweetening to a minimum, but when we do, it is usually with honey.
MJ Pettengill via Facebook says
I purchase REALLY RAW HONEY … which is fabulous! Love the casings at the top of the jar. 🙂 <3
Britt @ Honest to Goodness Living says
I JUST recently was in a fast food chicken restaurant (big family luncheon) and happened to notice all the JUNK that is in those honey packets… but never would have thought the stuff at the store could be fake too! What an eye-opening post! …thankful that we have good friends who graciously send us home with jars of their REAL homespun honey regularly 🙂
Sorry, but if you are so concerned about fake honey BUT eat JUNK FOOD, well you need to educate yourself and your family a bit more on fast food! Unless it’s a typical example of ignorance and laziness.
Pamela Stevens via Facebook says
I get mine at the farmers’ market, usually.
So, just to be clear does this issue also include honey labeled “Raw”? I thought if it said, raw on it that it meant it was not highly processed. Sorry, perhaps I’m missing something in your article, but after reading I left with the understanding that even organic and raw honey bought at locations that are not health food stores can be fake.
Yes, it does. It shouldn’t, but it does, because the laws regarding honey labeled RAW allow for high-temperature processing above 118F. I don’t remember the exact number, but they basically say that it can’t be above “normal hive temperatures,” which can actually get quite hot in warmer climates.
Plus, a lot of organic, raw honey is sourced from other countries, most notably Brazil. As such, we really don’t know what sort of standards they have.
All that to say, stick with buying honey from a single farm or small co-op. That really is the most important thing!
I was about to order the honey you linked to on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00014JNI0/), but noticed that the label says “Product of Brazil & Candada”. Do you still recommend it?
Jason Lutz via Facebook says
I always buy organic and LOCAL honey. Check the manufacturer’s address on the back.
James, there are plenty of Republicans (my family and I among them) who don’t believe in this kind of junk. There are greedy and unethical folks on both sides of the aisle; and there are caring honest people from both the left and the right. 🙂
While there may be greedy and unethical people in every political party and persuasion, there seems to be a consensus in the Republican party that regulation, or anything else for that matter, by government is evil. How else are we supposed to know what we are buying if there are no regulations concerning content and labeling? The FDA, and all enforcement of standards, has been shrunk by “conservative” pressure since the ’80s to the point that they might as well not exist now. You won’t get any improvement in this by voting for the cause of the problem. Sorry to get all political, but that’s my take on it.
Keith is right. Sorry guys. Pay attention to the Republican Platform sometime and the immediate retraction of regulations far and wide across all sectors, affecting agriculture, drinking water, and air as soon as Republican Party members take office. Actions speak louder than words. Nobody tried to make this political, but it is infuriating to see rollbacks of protections in the name of “small government”. We do need some protection from unfettered capitalism. Dunno what else to say.
Crystal Greco via Facebook says
Also eating local honey helps with combatting allergies. The local pollens collected by bees is important for your system to identify and build a resistance to. This happens by ingesting these local pollens.
Anne W. says
I’ve noticed quite a few comments posted here about using local honey to combat seasonal allergies, and I just have to comment, too. My husband suffers from many allergies, including several grasses and trees, and suffers every spring from seasonal allergies. After allergy testing, his allergist told him that eating honey wouldn’t help him because he wasn’t allergic to the types of flowers that the pollen used for honey would come from. So if eating honey helps, it’s because you’re allergic to the local flowers. But if won’t help everyone.
Hi Anne. I didn’t know this until I started keeping bees myself. A couple things in regard to eating honey to combat allergies. You might want to help educate your allergist. Yes bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers but a very large portion of the pollen they collect is from trees and even some grasses (like ragweed). The best approach to eating honey to help combat allergies is to eat very local honey that is harvested during the time that you are reacting to pollen in your local area. So to sum up, if your (or your husbands) allergies are reacting to something that is in bloom at the time say ragweed or oak tree pollen, find a local keeper and request a batch of honey fresh from the hives. That way you can guarantee the honey you are eating is made from whatever is currently in bloom and causing your current reaction. Make sense? I plan to sell my honey in the future with this in mind by noting the harvest date and what is noticeably in bloom. Hope this helps.
This doesn’t sound right to me. My husband has similar allergies and local honey always helps. We have lived in a rainforest climate, a temperate climate and a semi-arid climate. He has had allergic reactions in each of them. He is also allergic to bee stings.
Your husband’s allergies are triggered by pollen from the plants (whether his allergist recognizes them as having flowers or not) that grow where you live. They cannot be triggered by something that is not in your area. The local bees get their pollen from the exact same plants, at the exact same time. Doesn’t matter if it is a tree, grass, weed, or prize winning rose bush. The bees don’t care. They can be isolated in very large fields, to have access to primarily one type of plant over another, but cannot be trained to exclusively obtain pollen from clover, or alfalfa or buckwheat.
We get our honey from an orchard up the road. That honey will include pollen from apple and cherry trees, grapes, strawberries, dandelions, pines, poplars, ragweed, thistle, chickory, cucumbers, tomatoes, lawn grass – anything that grows and produces pollen within several miles of the hive.
I can’t help but wonder if the allergist thinks there are 2% and skim cows. He probably knows how to obtain and accurately read test results, but I don’t think he knows squat about nature. I think he gave you bad information. Please check it out yourself instead of relying on his “expert” opinion about something he appears not to understand.
me Bee says
It’s impossible to study Nature from inside a building , you can obtain a certain amount of knowledge though . Out of 100’s of fine Dr.’s that graduate medical school , very few graduate from the top of the class .
Honey Bees will gather every and any form of nectar , sugar source , etcetera available to them from their environment . The pollen sacks on their legs picks up whatever else is in close proximity to that sweet source . It all gets brought back to the house bees to be stored away . I agree with you .
Had to comment because I am a bit disturbed by all the comments above.
If someone is truly ALLERGIC to a substance, exposure to it will, indeed, “build up an immunity to it”, in that the person will become MORE allergic to it. If a person is allergic to the local flora, then local bee pollen will only WORSEN allergies.
However, if a person simply has sensitivities due to lack of exposure (which seem like allergies — sniffling, coughing, sneezing, etc.), then consuming local pollen will actually build up the body’s TOLERANCE to those substances.
True allergies always get worse with exposure. There’s no such thing as building up a tolerance to allergies. That’s why each bee sting is more deadly than the previous one.
Earth Friendly Goodies via Facebook says
plus all the added benefits of local honey helping your allergies
I count myself a little bit lucky to be living in Australia. Because I’m near the outback, “health food” is scarce, but some quality items are taken for granted, like the Australian Beekeepers Direct honey, which tells me about the type of honey and the beekeeper that worked on THAT bottle/jar. It may not be as nice as fresh honey from a local farmer, but it’s pretty good from a basic grocery store with no “health food” section.
I think that’s the whole problem. Stores should not have to have a section with “healthy food”. Why not have a section with “unhealthy food” where everything else IS healthy?
Garlic Head via Facebook says
What!? Is NOTHING sacred?
I’d also like to add to the honey discussion, In order to get the most effective honey for your allergies and health, you should eat RAW honey (no surprise there) and it should be from a hive that is less than 60 miles from where you live. I don’t know the specifics but it is illegal to sell raw honey (unpasteurized) in the grocery store, so I think most store sources, especially large chain, are not a good choice. Whole foods says the honey is raw in their bulk food area, so I don’t know. They also say their almonds are raw, which they are not (another good article for the food renegade). And regarding the 60 mile rule, this means the bees have been foraging pollen within 60 miles of your house, NOT that the honey was bottled 60 miles mile from your house. Many honey producers keep their hives at some location very far from where their label says.
This doesn’t hold true for Illinois at the very least. We purchased raw, unfiltered honey from the local WholeFoods all the time. It was produced in the Midwest (Michigan or Wisconsin). We fished a bee wing out once and I’ve never seen pasteurized honey that colour and texture before, so if they were attempting to pass off pasteurized honey as raw and unfiltered, they did a very good job! It was almost identical to the stuff we purchased in Switzerland, just a little different because of the different plants involved (obviously). We recently moved back to California, but I haven’t had the chance to go honey shopping yet.
Let me tell you something, honey. The average P.H. of honey is 3.9. This makes it over 1000 times more acid than neutral water. When you store something highly acidic in plastic it eats away at the plastics. If you want to avoid petrochemical soup with your honey, then never buy honey in a plastic container.
This is true, but since, if you are buying raw honey, it hasn’t been heated to a very high temperature, the amount of “petrochemical soup” that migrates to the honey is going to be minimal, compared to what you find in items such as canned tomatoes – which are both treated at high temperatures and pressures, as well as being highly acidic. Higher temperature and pressure mean greater reactivity between the honey and its container. It’s something to keep in mind, but if you need to prioritize, I’d focus on canned goods first.
That is a good point, though. I may have to bite the bullet and buy smaller, glass, containers at a higher price. I was buying honey in plastic gallons. Petrochemicals are more insidious than most people think, and every avoidance helps. Thank you.
Wait! What about poor people who eat from convenience stores in poor neighborhoods? $10 or more for 6-8 ozs of real honey is something they cannot afford. They’ll buy the honey bears with 4-6 ozs at $1.49 which will most likely be the adulterated Chinese honey.
What can we do?! Join a Food Co-op that is owned by your community to grow the influence of these stores in the market. If there isn’t a Food Co-op nearby, start one. Find out more at Food Cooperative Initiative online.
Once Food Co-ops grow to 1% of the food market, we move stores into these food deserts and build that ownership model in those poor neighborhoods. They deserve to eat unadulterated food. Food Justice.
That’s pretty outrageous pricing. I pay $11 a quart for local, raw honey from the beekeeper down the road. As with most real food, it’s usually priced quite well if you buy direct from producers instead of retail stores.
Yes, that’s true, but David makes a great point. Where can someone in a low-income, urban center find a producer? Even supermarkets are pretty few and far in between (not to mention bad) in the poor neighborhoods around me. I live in Southern California, and have seen this kind of red-lining first hand. If there were more food co-ops in places far from producers, more people would have access and the great education in healthy choices a co-op can provide. On the plus side, I’ve seen raw local honey from Long Beach and Bellflower at my Whole Foods. Not exactly places I would have thought great honey would be from!
We don’t eat homey very often, but this is really distressing. When I buy a bottle of something that says 100% honey on the front, I want it to actually be honey. Is there anything in our regular supermarket that isn’t pumped full of subsidized GMO corn byproducts?
Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE says
What a great article. I did not know all that.
Thanks, Food Renegade!
By the end of the most recent drought in Australia, I overheard a news report about how Australia might have to import honey for the first time ever. I didn’t give it much thought until I read this post because I continued to see well-known Australian brands on our supermarket shelves.
I buy pure, cold-extracted honey from local suppliers, so we also get the added benefits of reducing hay fever. I was looking for a suitable refillable squeeze bottle to put it in to make it easier and less messy for the kids to use. I ended up buying a cheap teddy honey from the shops because I could refill the bottle when it was finished.
The kids wouldn’t eat the teddy bear honey though. I thought it was because it was heat extracted and less tasty, but then I read this post and someone’s comment about teddy honey not being real honey. I was shocked when I checked the label on the teddy honey and discovered that it was only 30% honey and imported from China! It went straight in the bin.
I don’t know why we import that rubbish when there are so many other reputable Australian honey suppliers on our shelves. I was horrified and, for now, am putting up with my children’s sticky, messy method of getting honey out of the tub. 🙂
Ian Wendt says
Just to clarify, Chloramphenicol is NOT banned by the FDA. As a matter of fact, because of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, it remains a first-line treatment for staphylococcal brain abscesses. Does it have potentially devastating adverse effects? You betcha. Not banned, however.
you can get REAL honey from us! facebook.com/schoolhousefarm. ’til we’re out…
Carol Williamson via Facebook says
Carol Williamson via Facebook says
Was wondering if we would have the same issues in Canada, there is only one beekeeper near us who’s honey we like and we can’t afford his prices, so have been buying grocery store honey, it says 100% canadian honey on the packaging, and the company is owned by the bee keepers association of canada. Just curious
Tracey @ Dont Mess with Mama says
Ugh! This is so depressing. I’ve been buying raw honey from Trader Joe’s – I think they import it from Mexico. So hopefully it still has pollen. I haven’t found a local honey farm, but need to look. There’s a fantastic one in Kauai – Kauai Kunani Farm – that I loved.
Tracey Black says
Ugh – this is so depressing. I buy my raw honey from Trader Joe’s. It’s imported from Mexico, so hopefully it still has pollen in it.
Bliss Doubt says
This makes me wonder if maple syrup on the market is similarly and as universally adulterated.
Elisabeth M says
Can we trust it if it says on the bottle, “Ingredients: Honey.” ? Or are they lying even then, too?
The problem, as with olive oil adulteration, is usually not laid at the feet of the end company that packages and distributes the end product for retail. These companies all *believe* they’re selling 100% olive oil or 100% honey. Perhaps some of them are turning a blind eye to their sources and what those specific sources might mean. But I’d wager that most honestly think they’re buying real olive oil and real honey from the middle men who supply them. So, they slap an ingredients label on the product that says 100% “olive oil” or “honey” and nothing else.
The problem arises because of where the honey originates — namely, China. Chinese “honey” is known to be both full of toxins AND often fake, so the U.S. has HUGE tariffs on imported Chinese honey to dissuade our buyers from purchasing it. Unfortunately, all this has done is caused the fake and toxin-filled Chinese honey to be “laundered” through other countries first before arriving in the U.S.
So, the ingredients label is no guarantee.
The only guarantee comes with buying honey from trusted sources and suppliers. In my book, that’s a single beekeeper, a small farm, or possibly a small co-op. And, it helps if they’re local so that you can meet the people and judge their trustworthiness yourself.
Kristen, thanks for the great story. Shocking! I live in Austin… do you know if Good Flow is any good?
I don’t. I’ve seen their stuff in grocery stores, but I buy most of my honey here in Georgetown from a little old lady named Mary Bost.
I know they’re a local company. Round Rock, isn’t it? I just don’t personally know them or if they have a local apiary.
Team Oberg says
I have seen even greater atrocities when looking at grocery store honey. I found one that was actually fructose syrup with “honey aroma” whatever the hell that is.
Does this apply to the UK? As the EU has stricter import laws (for example GMO and irradiated foods are both banned for production/import). Is honey in the UK likely to be real honey or not?
Yeah, it’s really scary to know that the FDA is only able inspect approx. 5% of imported goods. That’s exactly why it’s not a bad idea to buy and support local markets, farmers, etc. That goes for everything from seasoning to honey to veggies and tallgrass beef. Thanks for bringing this issue up guys!
The picture you have is from a Canadian family owned business and therefore is NOT FAKE HONEY as it depicts. I would be worried about legal actions…although the rest of the article is quite correct!
Good thing the photo doesn’t claim that honey is fake, then! Instead, it’s just a picture of honey since the post is about honey.
When the cursor goes over it says “fake-honey”
Maybe you should have researched the picture a little more, as this does have a company name and logo on it and is now plastered all over the world wide web as fake honey. This could be very damaging to that company!
The cursor says “fake-honey” because those are the keywords the page is search engine optimized for, not because it’s making any claims about the contents of the photo.
For an example of this in action on a post with more than one photo, see my Kombucha Scoby Experiment post. The page is optimized for the keywords “kombucha scoby,” so every single picture includes those words — even the picture at the bottom of Hannah Crum. Does that mean she’s a kombucha scoby? No. It just means that photo tags, descriptions, and titles are a good place to put keywords so search engines can know what the blog post is about.
Hope that helps explain it a bit!
I understand how “that” works I just think you should have used a generic picture of honey!
Oh, I see! Well, in my mind this *is* a generic picture of honey since it came from a creative commons licensed photo I found on flickr. When searching for creative commons content (photos I don’t take myself or have to pay to use), I can only be so picky. There’s usually only ever one or two that I think look nice enough for my blog!
In this case, I was specifically looking for honey in its packaging on store shelves. This was the best photo I could find.
I knew it was over heated and processed but I had no idea!! Thank you!! VERY MUCH!!
I always wondered why it was so much cheaper. Was hard to resist… But thank you – now I will!
And just found this great group who could use our help… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebeezkneez/revive-the-hive-with-the-beez-kneez-honey-house
So, I live in Canada, what should it say on the store bought honey if it is raw honey or fake honey, what should the ingredients be?? If anyone knows?
M. Yadwabnee says
When you buy honey look to see if it says Raw or Unprocessed, or unfiltered. Also look for a website or phone number. If so call them before you buy the product. Before I began online purchasing I would find Local honey in my area. Until I found one very good source. Then I met someone who had an online business and who also recommend to me that the local honey i was buying was very good. If you find a company in Canada that sells raw honey that would be best.I am not sure if the websites i order from ship to Canada.
M. Yadwabnee says
I thought it this article was very accurate. You certainly did your research. It is good to have folks like you letting the people know about these companies selling inferior products, misleading and misguiding the people. I work in a supermarket and always advise people on the dangers of what they buy. The store carries 1 local raw honey and dozens of fake honey. I usually buy my raw honey online from sahabisweets.com for local NJ honey & ebeehoney.com for Royal Jelly and propolis. There should be laws about what is being sold or at least added to these honeys. When purchasing honey it is very important to know where the honey is from, is there a phone number or website to ask questions. The honey I buy online I feel comfortable in knowing the quality of the item. Again good article
Just another story that strengthens my resolve to never by food products from China again.
oops….I mean ‘buy’. ; )
It’s impossible to not buy food from China!
Although I agree with you that local is best, do you think anything in this article is true? I got this organic busy bees honey from Costco. It is interesting to me how the article mentions filtration to avoid crystallization and sure enough my honey has crystallized.
I will try to be more consistent with buying local.
I wouldn’t throw the bear shape out with the bathwater because my local honey farmer packages it in little bears as well!
The General says
The absence of pollen is an indicator that the honey might be ultra-filtered, but it’s not proof that the honey came from China.
Read the article again. It states that the vast majority of honey has undergone ultra-filtration. By law, ultra filtered honey cannot be called honey as it has undergone a substantial transformation in its character. This would mean that 76% of grocery store honey is illegal. This would mean that 100% of the honey found in CVS and Walgreens is illegal.
And what about the follow-up? Who supplies CVS and Walgreens? It’s likely a handful of major manufacturers because these national convenience store chains don’t have the time or volume to mess around with dozens of sources. So who supplies them, and what do they say? The major manufacturers are saying that this is nonsense, that they verify the source of their raw honey thru pollen testing, and then use standard filtration techniques, which remove the majority of pollen, to improve clarity, and prevent crystallization (which American consumers don’t understand).
Is inferior honey imported illegally? Sure. Is it this widespread. Not even close.
I buy my honey from a beekeeper who attends my church. I know for sure he’s selling me the real thing. He also sells 55 gallon drums to Sue Bee, but he has no control over what they do with it after they buy it from him.
Kay Ceravolo says
Honey saved my life with miserable allergies….. both spring and fall. A friend had read that taking a spoon 3 x a day of fresh LOCAL HONEY helped ….. and it DID….. LOCAL HONEY – helps the allergies you are troubled with – & it’s truly amazing…… plus healthy. Give it to your children too.You’ll be amazed at how they have less illnesses – the snakes that are tampering with pure & natural honey are doing so to damage your immune system.
dumb question says
Ok, this needs to get asked. What the hell does anybody use honey for? I would guess that I haven’t had honey in probably 20 years, and I can’t even imagine a scenario in which I would purchase it today. I have heard that folks use it to sweeten tea, but in that scenario, you can’t taste it anyway. Is it used in certain kinds of cooking?
My family of five eats about a quart of honey per month. We use it because it’s a locally-sourced, natural sweetener. We use it in place of refined sweeteners like table sugar.
You can read more about which natural sweeteners my family uses here –> https://www.foodrenegade.com/my-natural-sweeteners-of-choice/
Gavin Dillard says
to my tastes, my morning tea isn’t tea without honey. tea with sugar might just as well be someone else’s drink. honey adds a body that sugar does not. they are not the same thing.
honey is also superb in salad dressings. with lemon, olive oil …
Pity that this comment is so far down that few will read it, but here goes. Much honey is smuggled by middle eastern money launderers/loansharks that have ties to terrorists. Used to be these people were mom&pop (&sons) money/credit traders who had also traditionally sold honey (long explanation about quranic lending laws won’t be seen here) but now fanatics have largely taken over the business and funnel some or much of the profits to terrorists. Using a broad brush here, google a bit and you’ll find details. Homeland security has pretty much shut them down in the US, but the fake honey still comes in to be sold to the unsuspecting kufr (us) for big bucks to send home.
You might want to reconsider the use of the word “filtered”. All honey is strained, to remove bee parts, wax, and other foreign matter. It isn’t filtered unless the packer is trying to hide something. In my opinion, there isn’t any such thing as “organic honey”, unless you can control the flowers from which the bees get the nectar. Bees fly great distances to collect pollen and necter; who knows what kind of flowers they encounter?
Tasha Bush says
We are REAL beekeepers in the state of Florida and have the stings to prove it. Not all honey is strained. Our honey is never warmed or filtered in anyway. Once spun in a hand extractor our honey sits in a food grade collection tank for 24 hours at which point ALL the bee parts, wax and other foreign material floats to the top of the container. Then we spend hours filling bottles from a tap located on the bottom of the bucket. The result is a thick, clear, and pure honey. We can be found on Facebook under the name Bush Boys Beehives.
Walter Jeffries says
I feel very fortunate that I live between two beekeepers. I know who’s nectar their bees suck – mine. I plant the fields they pollenate so I know precisely what grows there. No GdDmn GMOs. This is goodness.
Save Dofio says
This article needs an update.
Looking at the dates of comments, this had its heyday in August of 2012, coming up on a year ago, and is now washing up again – I don’t see a date on the post itself.
But it was well before that first wave of comments that I came across a much more authoritative piece (dtd Aug 2011) at http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/08/honey-laundering/#.UbyzKOfYB8E (the same beekeeper Adee is quoted multiple times).
In that article, an organization called True Source Honey is cited as a beacon of hope in determining whether the honey you want to buy checks out or not. So how is it that this newer piece never mentions them? http://www.truesourcehoney.com/
Since that time, the True Source Honey stamp of approval can be found on the generic Costco (“Kirkland”) honey I’ve been buying (5lbs), and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not the only inexpensive and certified mainstream source. Their site lists beekeepers, packers and more, but until/unless someone exposes True Source as some kind of fraud, I’d suggest merely looking for the True Source stamp on labels wherever you buy honey, since at least in the case of the Kirkland stuff, it’s not clear who packs it.
Eugenia Wessels says
http://www.foodsafetynews.com did the first article and
it was great!! Our “Local Raw Honey” is the only Brand named in the article with a picture of all the pollen embedded in the honey. “Wessels Family Honey” is in Portland,Or and is in the shelves at Fred Meyers, QFC Markets, Thriftways, Whole Foods, New Seasons Markets & many others.
So yes…you can find REAL Honey on the shelf:) we have Picture Pollen Tested Proof:)
Wessels Family Honey
Heath Purser says
They are bad about “scorching” honey just to make it more appealing to the eye as well. I have bought my honey from a small farmer over in Georgia, just southof Atlanta in a town called Newnan, for years now. There is literally no comparison to what most people get from stores! Its so tasty and dark and natural tasting, its also really good for your health! I will never buy from a store again after having lically harvested and produced honey!
I love HEB because I can find the same honey there that I do at my farmer’s market (actually got to tell the guy at the farmer’s markets “I already bought some of your honey at the grocery store.”)
That doesn’t mean that everything they carry is fine…but it’s nice to know they carry the real stuff too!
Please let me know if the honey bought at Trader joe’s is a real honey? Its says it is organic, natural honey. Now I am freaking out about this chinese stuff…
The truth is, if your honey pours easily you are not getting everything honey has to offer. In the winter your honey should be hard to scoop out, in the summer, it’s a bit easier but a little thicker then peanut butter. Raw honey is the best, safest and good for you honey that is out there. When heat is used to extract the honey, it loses it’s awesome benefits.
Little Feather says
I work in a store that sells this SAME “honey”. Wow, I feel awful, as I am partaking in selling FAKE honey….
Donna B. says
Wow, good info. I even buy honey as souvenirs from various cities (in US) because I enjoy all the different flavors. I never read anything about honey coming from China.
I wonder if Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s honey was tested. I guess local is the only way to be sure.
Just putting it out there, I happen to sell pure honey in my farm market. But I find myself having to explain that it is still pure honey, simply because it isn’t labeled “organic”. People need to realize that just because it isn’t labeled organic doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. Does anyone on here realize just how much money it costs a farmer to get organic certification? Look into it sometime. For crops a farmer can’t use any type of spray on his fields for 3 years. No pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
wow! I knew that New Zealand bans importing of honey so that New Zealand honey is never tainted by outside honey. Now I understand why that is so important. Thank you for sharing this!
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Eisele’s has been selling hand packed Midwestern Raw Honey in Indiana for over 30 years. It is available at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and dozens of health food stores statewide. Honey may look and taste different from one bottle to the next depending on the floral source. Also, the word local on the label might be the manufacturers location, not necessarily the origin of the honey. Ask your store’s grocery buyer questions. Ask the packer, whose name should appear on the label. Bee an informed and skeptical consumer. BTW if you enjoy our product, ask for it at Whole Foods in Chicago, we hope it will be available there soon.
This story made the rounds in 2011, citing an article that was debunked by an npr investigation (available at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/25/142659547/relax-folks-it-really-is-honey-after-all). Was there any additional fact-checking conducted for this article?
Seeing some links I could follow to the actual FDA statement/research on this topic would really go a long way in improving the credibility. For example, http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_108.html states: “During the mid 1990’s, detentions of imported honey from Brazil, Mexico, and the Soviet Union occurred due to adulteration with corn or cane sugars. “
Alexander Deck says
I recently acquired some honey at COSTCO, at a very reasonable price I might add! The bottle says it is 100% USDA certified organic honey from Brazil. I normally eat raw honey that is grown on my parents land. This honey tastes nothing like my parents honey and reminds me a lot of other products containing corn syrup.
Is there a website that lists contaminated honey brands? I want to see if my suspicions are correct.
Your reasoning as to why anyone would ultra filter honey is most insane. It is not to hide the Chinese or imported honey. It is to reduce the absolute total health benefits to the public of the pure unadulterated raw honey! Our controlled government in conjunction with the AMA to ensure the public has no health benefits from anything “natural”! Take that your your banksters that run the USA.
David Manuel via Facebook says
And that’s why we decided to get our own bees and do our own thing. They arrived today!
Molly Woodworth via Facebook says
I get my raw, organic honey from a grocery store! Gasp! Wow! Imagine that.
Sheila Streicher via Facebook says
Another reason to buy local.
Alex Koski via Facebook says
She does mention organic store bought honeys near the end of the article and 28% contain no pollen. I get my raw honey at a grocery store too but the article is more worth reading than the headline.
Carol White via Facebook says
Ann Holloway via Facebook says
I don’t like hearing that because honey is good for you
Caroline Andrews via Facebook says
Raw honey is nutritious. I haven’t bought the refined supermarket stuff for years.
Carmen Tracey via Facebook says
raw, local from the health food store
Ericca Littleton Souther via Facebook says
Farmers market. Local and no spray on the hives.
Rachel in Oklahoma says
Our Walmart and grocery store here sell honey from a beekeeper (from a city close to ours) that is labeled “pure raw honey”. I assume that this honey is okay. I guess I could call the guy up and ask how he extracts the honey…? Is it a fair guess that this honey is REAL?
Roxanne Rieske via Facebook says
You can get real honey from the grocery store. You have to
Read labels and know what to look for. Please stop the hysteria. I can get local, raw, unfiltered honey all over town.
Greg Richey via Facebook says
Most of the honey sold at a grocery has been tampered with. I would not buy it there and it is not hysteria. You do a service to your own communities economy if you go to a website like local harvest and seek out local farmers that have products for sell. You will get better food at better prices that will do more for your local economy. If the honey is pasteurized it is not honey any more. The same goes for milk.
Roxanne Rieske via Facebook says
@Greg…thanks for not actually reading what I wrote. It’s easier to find local, raw, unfiltered honey in grocery stores than ever before. Just read the damn label.
Sara DeVooght Waldecker via Facebook says
After a few years of buying raw local honey right from beekeepers, my taste buds can tell.
Brooke C. Arndt via Facebook says
UGH!! So sick of people selling BS to the public!! Stop it!!
Tiffanie Anne Zumwalt via Facebook says
Wait….you already posted this…
Nycole Elizabeth via Facebook says
Ayumi Owczar via Facebook says
Guillaume Dougados via Facebook says
It’s like when I see people buying Aunt Jemima sirup, I have to shake my head every time, people are so ignorant, that’s how the food industry strives.
Nina Pilar via Facebook says
Buy raw honey! Aaron Daniels
Becky Iguaran via Facebook says
Annie Newton via Facebook says
Oh my gosh I never thought about that
Robert Ulander via Facebook says
I know my honey is real. I get it from my back yard.
Hey Honey! Artisanals via Facebook says
Thank you for bringing this dilemma to light, consumers need to be more savvy when buying honey. And yes, I know my honey is real!! 😉
Carla Printz via Facebook says
Its best to get honey from the area you live in. It helps with allergies
Reynaldo Zapp Maldonado via Facebook says
if it’s not honey, why is it labelled as honey? it should called “artificial honey flavoured” or “crap trying to taste and look like honey”
Roberta Morrison via Facebook says
My uncle had hives, but they move several years ago, so I have to be careful where I get my honey. Here’s a list of the “honey” that failed.
Debbie Lisman McClelland via Facebook says
I’m a beekeeper and it is a struggle to convince people that what they are getting isn’t real honey. We’re having our county fair right now and we have a large building with displays and real honey we sell. It’s a great educational opportunity.
Guillaume Dougados via Facebook says
mostly get it from local beekeepers, cheap honey in stores is processed junk
Becki Miller via Facebook says
We have a bee keeper close by. Yummy real stuff!
Pao Serna via Facebook says
Karen Haight via Facebook says
support local beekeepers only!! and the benefits of local honey are many!!
Kelly Kopicki Williams via Facebook says
Yep, buy local and know your beekeeper/source!
Liz Berkoski Engel via Facebook says
Mine is its from my cousins hives 🙂
Erlinda Duran via Facebook says
Cee cee Cee Cee Irene Thomas
Shaina Ginesta via Facebook says
Raw local honey is the way to go
Lisa Peters via Facebook says
Yup, raw and local is all that enters my home and my family’s mouths. Everything else is honey flavored sugar, probably genetically modified sugar too.
Robynne Catheron says
My 21-yr old granddaughter just aannounced that it’s a federal law that if it says it’s honey on the label, it must be real honey, not corn syrup, etc. She also said there are two tests to verify it’s real honey. One, honey will burn, corn syrup will not. Two, a drop of honey will stay solid, where corn syrup will dissolve. Are these reliable tests? Is there a simple way to verify the presence of pollen?
Leigh Andrew says
Lavender honey is collected from hives placed in commercial Lavender farms. Commercial Lavender plants are sterile and produce no pollen. So the quote “if it doesn’t contain pollen it isn’t honey” is factually incorrect.
I dunno but this entire article just dripped with racism at CHINA BAD, USA GOOD!
The US companies are the ones producing the corn syrup laden honey, Wal Mart does it ceaselessly with the help of Monsanto. And yet you blame China!? Don’t make me laugh.
It all just seems to be a ploy to sell your friend’s honey, which we have no guarantee other than your word (which as we can see from your utter lack of sources above) counts for nothing.
Thanks for this info! I shared on my Zen Mama Facebook page!
Nancy Tychinsji says
I see bee pollen being sold in stores. How would I use that ?
I am a chemical free organic beekeeper and I am getting big enough that I want to start going to farmers markets. It is illegal for me to sell unfiltered honey!!! In Ontario I have to put the grade of my honey on the lable and the only grades suitable fr human consumption have to be ultra filtered… I should make up my own grade No. 1+ Since it is even better for you. Problem is they can actually fine me thousands if they want to… What a broken system
I am a chemical free organic beekeeper and I am getting big enough that I want to start going to farmers markets. It is illegal for me to sell unfiltered honey!!! In Ontario I have to put the grade of my honey on the lable and the only grades suitable fr human consumption have to be ultra filtered… I should make up my own grade No. 1+ Since it is even better for you. Problem is they can actually fine me thousands if they want to… What a broken system.
Katrina Schooler says
Mm great idea! I also have a bag of polenta hanging about which never seems to go as well with meals as I think it will. I’ll have to try this one out!
Federico Berron says
Dear Kristen, the truth behind your article is now uncovered. Only NMR test can assure that honey is pure.
The China cheap honey is syrup, is fake honey all the way. But a very good fake because it passed all tests prior to these 2 you mentioned pollen and sufficient honey markers by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. The world honey market is vandalized by this specially hard the US with origins satellite to China including Ukraine and maybe Turkey. If NMR not enforced in all border crossings, world will head to loose its main pollinator as bees cannot survive without beekeepers under current predators spread. And 150,000 mt of 450,000 world trade honey volume is too much. The 1/3rd fake is misleading bodies into different paths than the good faith done by consumer. In current knowledge of impacts of carbohydrates this becomes an environmental and health crime. One that can be stopped with NMR testing mandatory,
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Jayeshbhai Akbari says
Joesph Deschenes says
great tips in the post thanks for the information
Sad, but true. Unfortunately, companies’s greed for money has lead to making junk for the sake of low cost-production.
D. VALENTINE says
I DON’T KNOW THE DATE OF THIS ARTICLE SO I MAYBE A DECADE LATE SINCE I JUST NOTICED IT TODAY. BUT I THINK YOUR SOURCES ARE WRONG WHEN THEY THINK THE ONLY ONES FILTERING POLLEN OUR OF HONEY ARE THE CHINESE. I HAVE HEARD OF ONE THAT DOES THAT SO HE CAN SELL THE POLLEN SEPARATELY. MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE IF THEY EAT A SPOONFUL OF THIS POLLEN EVERY DAY IT WILL HELP THEIR ALLERGIES.
AFTER HE REMOVES THE POLLEN, HE MIXES IN CORN SYRUP BEFORE HE BOTTLES IT. THE BOTTLES ALL INDICATE IT IS 100% HONEY.
I HAVE NOT SEEN THE ACTUAL OPERATION, BUT I HAVE SEEN THE POLLEN FOR SALE. IT IS EXPENSIVE. I HAVE ALSO SEEN HIS BOTTLED HONEY AND EVERYONE I SAW SAID 100% HONEY.
Cheryl Stewart says
You think that something on the label has to be truth? There are no government agencies that check what is on the label. What is on the label is whatever they want it say, not what it is.
RD Craytor says
Kraft single serve honey packets?
Is the honey in the plastic bear bottle filtered honey from aChina with no pollen in it? I don’t use it but spoke to a friend about not all honeys being equal and she didn’t really want to listen to me. She was using that honey.
Arnulfo Pasquino says
Very well written article. It will be useful to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work – looking forward to more posts.
Lovely. Outright false advertising & mislabeling of food products meant for human consumption. My “honey bear” in the kitchen doesn’t even contain an ingredient list or nutrition info, which means it likely does come from China & contain god-knows-what fake sweeteners.
Meanwhile, the FDA is on a crusade to ban kratom–a natural leaf that’s helped thousands quit opioids & other drugs. While it attaches to opioid receptors to take away cravings like Suboxone or methadone, it doesn’t suppress breathing like true opioids, making it a far safer & superior substitute for those choosing to taper off using substitution therapy. FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb has lied by trying to tie kratom to a salmonella outbreak that never materialized & by classifying it as a big scary “Opioid” despite it not being synthetic or coming from the poppy plant & thus not meeting the technical definition of one. Never mind the lead in our honey, the pentobarbital in our pet food or the countless adulterants in our herbal supplements…no, let’s ban things that actually help people & have been used safely for thousands of years. In the meantime they’ve just approved a drug called Dsuvia that’s 1000x stronger than morphine & 5x stronger than fentanyl.
The FDA only cares about addressing “problems” that compete with pharma’s patented drugs. They’ve never existed to keep the public safe. They protect Big Business’s pocket book only.
Your photo is of a company that practices what you stand for and your use of it in connection with this story is defamatory and libelous portraying it in a false light. I would suggest you fox it and make a public apology.
Andrea Nigh says
You may be a passionate advocate for real food, BUT quite lax when it comes to choosing the image for this particular blog. The image you have chosen happens to be a photograph of the honey produced at the local apiary in my home town of Alvinston, Ontario, Canada. It has been in business for 100 years and is 100% Canadian honey. Their brand deserved to be celebrated, not shunned because of an irresponsible blogger!
Please change your stock photo for this article. Munro Honey that you have pictured is indeed real pure Canadian honey. They have over 2,500 hives across southern Ontario. This and other stories about fake honey are being spread and are spreading and harming their brand image. Please consider changing the image to not contain a brand labeling. Thank you very much.
i posted about this too… i am also local to Munro Honey, i just noticed your comment,
Bruce Cain says
AS a honey enthusiast I would like to say that the problem of fake honey goes far beyond Chinese honey. Many greedy honey producers here add other cheap sugars to their honey. Its almost impossible to find real honey anymore, Even local honey is not safe. It’s depressing.
I SEE THAT YOU ARE USING THE MUNRO BRAND PICTURE ON YOUR ARTICLE, THEY ARE LOCAL TO ME AND ARE A REAL SOURCE OF REAL HONEY, THEY HAD AN ARTICLE BACK A FEW MONTHS REGARDING YOUR SITE USING THEIR PHOTO, WHICH WAS MISGUIDING PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR HONEY.
IF I WERE YOU I WOULD MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THEIR PERMISSION TO USE THIS PHOTO AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE HONEST AND CLEAR REGARDING YOUR USAGE AND TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE YOU ARE POSTING THEIR PHOTO ON.
BECAUSE YOU ARE IN TEXAS, YOU MAY THINK THAT USING A CANADIAN HONEY BRAND DOESN’T MAKE IT INVISIBLE TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB. THIS ARTICLE WILL BE POSTED AND COPIED TO THE MUNRO COMPANY HERE SO THEY ARE AWARE OF YOU USING THEIR BRAND.
Kristen Michaelis CNC says
Hi! The photo is a creative commons licensed photo on Flickr. If they don’t like a photo of their brand used this way, they are more than welcome to email me. I will be happy replace it with a different creative commons licensed photo! I never intended to malign a good brand doing good things.
All the best,
God's Gift - Really! says
What would stop these dishonest brokers to just North American pollen to their filtered honey. Or pollen from some other country not under suspicion.
We stopped using honey all together.
Can’t trust anyone anymore.
Maria Ricciardi says
How can I tell if the honey I’m buying in my supermarket is real? I live in a big city no access to farms I don’t drive and couldn’t get to farms in upstate NEW YORK ! I.REMEMBER AS A CHILD TRAVELING DOWN SOUTH TO. GOING THRU SOUTHERN STATE HEADING TO FLORIDA MY OARENT ALWAYS STOPPED AT FARM FOR FRESN FRUIT AND VEGGIES AND SOME VERY REALLY GREAT STEAKS BUT THE REASON MY ALWAY STOPPED GOING DOWN AND BACK UP TO NY WAS FOR REAL HONEY AND SEVERAL JARS OF APPLE BUTTER NEVER COULD JUST BUY GHE HONEY AND APPLE BUTTER COUKD SHE WAUT TIKK WE GOT WHERE WE WERE HEADING SHE ALWAY HAD TO HAVE BREAD AND START IMMEDIATELY PUTTING HONEY ON APPLES AND THE APPLE BUTTER ON BREAD FRESH BAKED BREAD FROM THE FARMS! BUT PLEASE TELL ME WAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE KABEL TO TELL ME INM GETTINGBTHE REAL DEAL I PAY AROUND $20 FOR HONEY EVERY MONTH
Cheryl Stewart says
I am retain that some honey that i purchased from Costco is adulterated with corn syrup. The reason is that I had the same reaction that I have to corn syrup, and it is not a reaction that honey gives me. I personally consider this a “test” It was a blind test as I could not understand why I was having the reaction, so I started gong through what did I eat that I don’t normally eat, and low – it was the honey from Csotco and that was the only thing. Their site has a lot of verbiage about where their honey is “sourced”. A lot of double talk – not really ever saying for certain that it is from the US only. The bottle says made in the USA – what does that mean for honey. costco has certainly gone down hill, but the point here is you really can’t trust that your honey is honey. Thanks for the great article.