Most Honey in the U.S. Isn't Honey at All, Food Safety News Reports
All the sticky details after the jump.
It's pretty clear that when you rip open the packet of honey "sauce" at a particular major fried chicken chain with ingredients labeled as: honey, high fructose corn syrup and other nonsense you know basically what you're getting (not much of anything beyond sweet) and you go on with your day.
That's not what we're talking about here.
What Andrew Schneider at Food Safety News is exposing is the honey that you buy at the supermarket labeled simply as honey. What he's learned is that almost all supermarket honey has had all the pollen filtered out to the point that most world health organizations would not consider it honey anymore because "without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources."
Additionally shocking and frustrating is that in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration notes that "any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen."
The story gets worse. Food Safety News had done an earlier study and found that "U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin."
So, FSN had 60 jars tested and, yep, almost all of it came back negative for pollen, including Sue Bee and the darling Winnie-the-Pooh brand honey. On a positive note, every sample tested from " farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores...Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen."
Not surprised she commented, "all it's good for is sweetener." She said that most of what she sells is her cloudy unfiltered raw honey since more people are interested and aware.
Dziuk continued by explaining the same challenges with royal jelly and how it's more difficult to source than honey. Royal jelly is the secretion from honey bees that go to feed larvae and the queen bee. It is thought to have more positive properties than honey and is even believed in Chinese medicine to treat infertility. "You can't find royal jelly produced here," she explained. But the royal jelly you do find has been processed and priced artificially low.
She tells us that we have to be careful when we're searching out bee pollen, too. "When you go to stores like Sprouts you might find that it says it's 'packaged in' the U.S. but that's a whole different story than 'produced by,'" she warns.
Dziuk and her children, Annalee and Ian, who also work the markets, get big reactions from folks at the markets who taste the honey that they source from a few different beekeepers (one in the Valley, one in Wickenburg and one in Flagstaff). She usually brings her own jars for the beekeeper to fill that she then takes to the markets and often hears "wow, I didn't realize there were so many different kinds." Supermarket honey "doesn't taste anything like this."
The source of all his ultra-processed honey is China. While the U.S. has stated that we don't want this fake honey, there are still brokers out there who will assist in switching the honey storage drums and create bogus country of origin papers.
To read the whole eye-opening story, head over to Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey: Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins at
Food Safety News.