Earlier this week, Food Safety News revealed a startling investigation surrounding the import of Asian honey, much of which has tested positive for antibiotics and heavy metals, and although is banned in countries throughout Europe, is finding its way onto shelves in U.S. supermarkets.
According to the report, "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."
The amount of contaminated honey dripping into the U.S. market is upwards of hundreds of millions of pounds, despite assurances by the FDA that the honey is safe, says the report. The corruption of quality is almost inconceivable, and includes routing toxic Chinese honey through India, relabeling and shuffling paperwork before shipping it to the U.S. Data received by investigators last week revealed that in just the last month, nearly 700,000 pounds of honey from China were shipped to India before coming to the U.S.
American beekeepers are currently capable of supplying just under half of all the honey needs for the U.S. market, with the rest of the honey over the last 18 months coming from a number of reliable sources in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay and Mexico. But the remaining 123 million pounds worth came from India and China, with 45 million pounds coming from India — a country that does not have the capacity to produce that much honey — and where traces of lead and illegal animal antibiotics were found to be excessive in honey samples refused by Europe. And, there have even been reports of honey made entirely without bees, but rather with artificial sweeteners, flavors, excessive filtration and processing.
Out of the 12 major honey importers in the U.S., experts interviewed by Food Safety News estimate that 4 to 5 represent the bulk of the honey laundering.
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image: Lucy M J Harper