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Today I had another topic in mind as I have written much on honey already this fall, but this morning two different stories hit my in box. If you are new to my blog your can read about Why I like local honey and Why you need to know where your honey is coming from.
Honey is the primary sweetener in my house. I use it in baking, in my tea on our faces and for other skin problems.
Today I was astonished to learn that much of the store bought honey would not pass food safety inspections and qualify as honey. Why is that? When I last wrote about honey it appeared that honey from North and Central America was safe.
Well Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia. These samples were tested at a reliable laboratory. It is a well known scientific fact that honey can be traced to its place of origin based on the pollen. In testing the honey from the grocery stores it was found that
- 76 percent of samples bought at grocery stores had all the pollen removed
- 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores had no pollen.
- 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
- 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.
Raw honey has been known through history to have many medicinal properties. Honey has been used for stomach ailments, anemia and allergies.
Removal of all pollen from honey "makes no sense" and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey," Jensen said. In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it's even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law," he added.
It's no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China," Adee added.
Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association's honey standards says the language is very simple, "Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that's adulteration," Ambrose told Food Safety News. Even though the Florida state Beekeepers Association has standards for honey there are no National standards for honey. Oddly enough other countries, have higher standards for food than the United States.
So what can you do?
- Buy local honey- everyone one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like PCC and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.
- Buy organic honey -the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn't ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen.
- Check country of origin - all of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.
- Don’t buy processed foods. The National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion organization under USDA oversight, says the bulk of foreign honey (at least 60 percent or more) is sold to the food industry for use in baked goods, beverages, sauces and processed foods.
- If you want real honey avoid these brands.
for additional reading check out Food Safety News
this post is linked up to Fat Tuesday,Traditional Tuesdays, Hearth and Soul, Your Green Resource, Green and Natural Mama