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What Passes for Honey on U.S. Shelves

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Why It Matters

Pollen-free honey may not sound like a problem, but without pollen it is not possible to trace the source. Food Safety News reported last August:

A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

No pollen, no traceability, no assurance of safety. Furthermore, when pollen is filtered from honey, so are many of the health benefits such as allergy relief and the nutritional value of vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients in bee pollen.

The Food Safety News test results come just as the EU has decided to order honey producers to test for the presence of unauthorized genetically modified pollen and to identify pollen as an ingredient rather than a natural component of honey.  Industry spokespeople fear the ruling will put many small-scale beekeepers and honey producers out of business.

The irony is that while Food Safety News is raising the red flag over the honey supply found on U.S. shelves, the EU may be making it impossible for its honey producers to keep the health benefits intact. For that, we have the vigilance of a German amateur beekeeper (who identified small amounts of GM pollen in his honey) and the steamroller spread of GM crops to thank.

For honey lovers who want nutrition, health and safety along with sweetness, farmers’ markets and organic honey producers offer the only reliable sources.

Related Care2 Stories

Honey Laundering May Mask Dangerous Contaminants

An Old Pesticide Causing New Problems

Are Pesticides the Reason So Many Bees Are Dying?

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Photo from hotblack via morgueFile.com

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390 comments

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1:56PM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

I've heard this works for allergies too, but you need to get from local bee keepers. Not from the grocery store. And be sure to ask when they harvest the honey. If they harvest in the fall and the winter you are unfortunately adding to the decline of the honey bees. I read they need the honeycomb during these seasons to help them survive since there are usually not any flowers.

6:09AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

Some types of glue also look like honey... :-)

9:10PM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

I've bought honey from a free market nearby, but I not sure if it's unfiltered. How can you recognize that? It should be good to have an article about it - if it's possible for us to recognize it.

7:09AM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

thanks

6:36PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Thanks for this!

12:24PM PST on Jan 20, 2012

Interesting, which is why the honey that is stated to be honey is not as tasty as the ones that say "natural bee honey" or something like that on the container. If you can't taste a flower in the honey, then there is likely no pollen in it.

9:01PM PST on Dec 26, 2011

When I have the money I am going to buy raw honey at Sprouts or Sunflower Market here in Phoenix,Arizona. But the dollar stores has a nice honey there. And the darker the honey is the more,nutrients are in there,that is good for your health. Earlier this yr,I got a dark and big size honey at the dollar store. HOney is good for your health and it eases your stomach. And lets fight to save the Bees,as they are being exterminated,because without them we would not have honey,and the other food that we need and like to eat,as the bees pollinates to food and helps it to grow,& then we can pick and eat it.

6:55AM PST on Dec 5, 2011

Thanks! I have always sought out raw honey, and go to the source and buy it as close to home as possible!
I see some companies defending themselves against this latest news about honey and CLAIMING their honey is RAW, and does not fall in line with what the media is saying. I can not stand how companies lie!

5:10PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

Raw honey is best, because at the temperatures at which most store bought honey is routinely pasturized, a compound in the honey changes to phytic acid, a toxin to humans.

5:09PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

Raw Honey is best, because to heat the honey above a certain teperature changes one of it's compounds into Phytic acid, which is toxic to most humans.

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