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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Why do I need to Know Where My Honey is Coming From?
For my honey is a kitchen staple. I use it every day in my tea, when I bake it is my sweetener of choice. I use it when we have colds or allergies. I use it to wash my face. I do my best to buy local honey, but this year our recent drought and heat wave mean that there is no local honey. In fact our local beekeepers may have to supplement the bees with food this year. So I am having to buy my honey at the store.
Have you heard the recent news? If not check your honey. Food Safety News recently reported that Asian Honey was Found to be Tainted. Now this is a problem because one third of all honey sold in the United States comes from China.
Experts interviewed by Food Safety News say some of the largest and most long-established U.S. honey packers are knowingly buying mislabeled, transshipped or possibly altered honey so they can sell it cheaper than those companies who demand safety, quality and rigorously inspected honey. It is not enough to check your labels, for honey from China, as some of the tainted honey has come to us through India, Vietnam and Malaysia It has been repackaged so that the labels have the new country of origin. How do investigators know this? India is shipping more honey than it can produce. Sometimes they don’t even bother to change the barrel. They simply change the label on the barrel That is a little sneaky, but not as sneaky as the fact that 1/3 of all honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China, through another country. Well once I stopped laughing picturing honey smugglers, think little bears, I wondered why this was so horrible. Well what if I told you that this honey is thought to be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals.
It seems that the animal antibiotics were used in the early 2000s to thwart a bacterial epidemic that was killing tens of millions of bees. The FDA has banned the presence of the drug in food; even in small amounts, because it can cause a severe or fatal reaction in about 1 out of 30,000 people. The lead contamination has been traced back to the thousands of small beekeeping operations in China that use unlined, lead-soldered drums to collect and store honey before transferring it to processors. Seems to me that China has a history of lead contamination in its food.
Interestingly enough Food safety investigators from the European Union have banned all of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics. Supposedly, any food that has been banned in another country can not legally be imported into the U.S. I guess honey is not a food?
If all that is not shocking researchers have discovered that some of the honey being imported isn’t even honey at all. Chinese brokers mix sugar, water, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey. Recently many honey shippers don’t even use honey. They just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey. Seriously?!
Now the real problem is that the United States 65 percent of honey sold in the U.S. goes into processed and packaged food. Not surprisingly, there are 12 major US honey packers. It is estimated that 4-5 of these producers are bottling honey from Asia. As with most US food the market is controlled by a limited number of producers.
I love my honey in my morning tea, and when I do bake sweets honey is my choice for sweetener. But recently while shopping I found a bottle of “honey”. That did not have any honey it it. So what can we do? Buy your honey locally if you can. If you are in the Rhode Island area check out my good friend at South County Honey. Unfortunately, for me my two favorite local small producers do not have a honey crop this fall, another side effect of a drought. But I have found some other local producers, and I have discovered that if you must buy honey in the grocery store the honey from Canada and countries in Latin America are still considered safe for honey production. As for me I am off to read more labels, buy less processed food and make more Real Food for my family.
this post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Living Well Blog Hop, Fresh Feed Friday, Fight Back Friday at The Food Renegade,Traditional Tuesday
this post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Living Well Blog Hop, Fresh Feed Friday, Fight Back Friday at The Food Renegade