Beware of Contaminated Honey
The U.S. consumes about 400 million pounds of honey a year, according to Food Safety News, which recently reported that dangerous, adulterated honey is reaching the US market in massive quantities. According to their investigation, about a third or more of all this honey is illegally smuggled into the US from China.
“Honey laundering” may sound odd, but it’s actually quite serious as much of this honey is tainted with illegal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, and heavy metals like lead.
The US FDA banned chloramphenicol after it was discovered that children given this antibiotic become susceptible to DNA damage and carcinogenicity. China uses it to combat a bacterial epidemic of foulbrood disease, which has been decimating bee colonies. According to public health experts, presence of chloramphenicol in honey can cause aplastic anemia—a severe and potentially fatal reaction—in certain people. The lead contamination is caused by the unlined, lead-soldered drums used by many small-scale beekeepers in China to collect and store the honey.
As of last summer, 27 European countries banned all shipments of Asian honey for these reasons. Unfortunately, even if you decide to avoid this problem by buying locally-produced honey (which would be ideal), you are likely getting it anyway unless your diet consists primarily of whole foods, because 65 percent of all honey consumed is used by food manufacturers for the use in all sorts of processed foods…
Are You Buying FAKE Honey?
Furthermore, there’s also the issue of fake honey being sold as the real thing…
According to Food Safety News:
“[A] favorite con among Chinese brokers was to mix sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey. In recent years, many shippers have eliminated the honey completely and just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey.”
High quality raw honey has many health benefits, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Most store bought honey is filtered and pasteurized, which removes most of the beneficial nutrients and basically leaves you with liquid sugar. Manuka honey is the top of the line in terms of quality, both for internal and external use. In fact, the FDA has approved Manuka honey to be used in wound and burn care in the United States. If you can’t find Manuka, your next best option would be raw honey produced by a local beekeeper.