Did you know according to the USDA, USA beekeepers can only supply about forty-eight percent of all the honey consumed and needed in the USA? That’s where honey consumers become vulnerable. The lacking fifty two percent of our needed honey is imported from forty one other countries; Americans consume about 400 million pounds of honey a year, which averages to approximately 1.3 pounds per person. Sixty-five percent of all the honey is used in industry for cereals, sauces, beverages, baked goods, and other processed foods; while the rest goes to household uses.
The really unsettling part of all this information is the fact that others along with Andrew Chneider from Food Safety News reported “More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produced, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.” Many trusted articles give extensive detail about how big the “fake honey” scandal is and how much it impacts American and World Beekeepers as well as all honey consumers.
So, what is the matter with Chinese Honey? It is banned from import by various European Countries, Japan, and the USA. In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission imposed an import tax to stop the Chinese from flooding the US marketplace with extremely cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business. However, to avoid this tax Chinese honey suppliers became creative; they shipped their honey to other Asian countries like, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and others that did not have US honey taxes levied against them. The honey was then illegally relabeled before being shipped as a product of those countries to the US for sale.
Did you know that even honey has a fingerprint too? Yes, honey’s origin can be identified by the type of pollen grains it contains, unless someone has deliberately cut off its fingers. By cutting off honey’s fingers I mean the deliberate removal of all traces of pollen from honey by the ultra filtration process which leaves the remaining liquid with no way of identifying its origin. Is the golden liquid in bottles on US grocery store shelves labeled honey from somewhere in the USA or did it leave China, take a tour to the country where it was relabeled before being ships to the USA? All Americans who shop for honey in grocery stores should think about this. Know your beekeeper so you know what is in your honey bottle!
Why is there so much dislike for Chinese honey? Similarly as with adulterated drugs coming out of China, there is evidence of honey suffering adulteration at the hands of Chinese honey producing practices. Weather it is because of the use of illegal drugs on their honeybees; Chinese Beekeepers used several Indian made animal antibiotics, including Chloramphenicol to fight “European Foul Brood” in their colonies. Chloramphenicol has caused major genetic damage in children and increases chances of Leukemia. Chinese beekeepers also store their honey in lead contaminated barrels which fouls the honey; they also add non-honey liquids like high fructose corn syrup to honey to attain more volume for sale at cheaper prices. To beat the pollen test on their ultra filtered honey, they combine some honey from the transient country to hide the fact of where their honey shipment really came from; Chinese honey has been found to contain illegal antibiotics and dangerous heavy metals, all this adds up to China’s honey having the awful reputation it carries.
So what do we the American honey consumer do? Should we even care where our honey comes from? Our collective decisions about the standard of honey we want on our tables and in our processed foods will play a role in the way our regulatory agencies like the USDA and the FDA allocate resources to enforce US laws about more stringent inspection of honey entering the American market from overseas. We American beekeepers need to spread the word, and encourage our friends and neighbors to spread the word around about what really happens to and with the honey we buy and eat from American grocery stores. Did you know any of this about your honey? Please tell a friend or neighbor about this or better yet encourage them to read this article also. Watch Hungarian beekeepers protest about Chinese honey spoiling their honey’s reputation.