In the last couple of months there have been a flood of news reports and articles about honey. Is it safe? Where does it come from? Can the bear you buy at the grocery store even be called honey? Food Safety News released a report of their findings based on independent testing done on 60 brands of honey purchased in ten different states and the District of Columbia. The samples were then taken to a leading melissopalynologists, which is a fancy name for a scientist who looks at the pollen in honey.
What he found was pretty surprising. 76 % of the tested honey purchased at grocery stores had absolutely no pollen, 100 % of the tested honey purchased at drug stores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS had no pollen, and 77 % of the tested honey purchased at big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target also had no pollen. So, why is this important to you? To make a long story short, honey that has no pollen undergoes a process called ultra-filtration - water is added to the honey and filtered under high pressure, then the water is removed. According to the FDA, what is left has no pollen and can't legally be called honey. It is also impossible to trace.
Again, why is this important to you? Well, if you can't trace the honey you buy there is no way to tell if came from China. A few years back, China's bee population became infected with a virus that killed millions of colonies. In order to stop the mass death the Chinese began treating the bees and hives with an antibiotic. The antibiotic is dangerous, even deadly, if ingested by humans so it has been banned in the United States and Europe. Unfortunately there have been instances where the contaminated honey has made its way into the U.S. food supply.
So, how can you tell if you are getting safe honey? First, make sure to buy organic honey. The Food Safety News report states that you have a better chance of getting honey that isn't ultra-filtered when you buy organic.
The good news is that there is a non-ultra-filtered, Fairtrade™ Certified, Organic honey on the market. With Fairtrade, Organic honey you can be sure the honeybees making your honey are far, far away from any exposure to GMO's or pollutants. They forage only on natural flora. Organic honey is also 100% free from chemical residues as the plants surrounding the hives have not been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics.
"Most honey sold in U.S. grocery stores not worthy of its name." CNN.com, November 9, 2011
Schneider, Andrew. "Tests Show Most Store Honey isn't Honey." Food Safety News. November 7, 2011.
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