Most honey you buy at the store isn't honey

Tests reveal a lack of bee pollen

Author: Ruth Spencer, Anchor/Consumer Reporter, @RuthtotheRescue
Published On: Nov 15 2011 01:02:25 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 15 2011 02:51:10 PM EST

Is the honey in your kitchen really honey, or something else? That's what Food Safety News -  attorneys representing consumers who've suffered food poisoning - wanted to learn.  

Food Safety News tested honey sold in grocery stores, drug stores, farmer's markets, and other outlets looking for bee pollen - the only part of honey that allows it to be traced back to its origin. 

Texas A&M University's pollen investigator, Vaughn Bryant, analyzed the gathered honey samples.  

The findings: 

-76% of the samples from grocery stores, including Kroger,  were missing bee pollen. 

-100% of the honey samples from drugstores such as Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

-77% of the samples from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target had no pollen.

-100% of honey in individual serving packs from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had no pollen. 

-Every one of the honey samples bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like Trader Joe's did contain bee pollen.

The U-S Food and Drug Administration considers any honey that's been ultra-filtered of all bee pollen to no longer be honey.

Ultra filtering heats honey, sometimes waters it down, then forces it under high pressure through extremely small filters to remove bee pollen.  According to Food Safety News it's a technique refined by the Chinese who for years have illegally dumped tons of their honey, some containing illegal antibiotics, on the U.S market.  

According to Richard Adee, one of the largest honey producers in the U.S., the only reason all pollen is filtered out of honey is to hide where it initally came from, and the fact is, in almost all cases, that is China."   According to Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, removal of all pollen from honey "makes no sense" and is contrary to marketing the highest quality honey possible.  According to Eric Wenger, director of quality services for Golden Heritage Foods, "there is a significant difference between filtration, which is a standard industry practice intended to create a shelf-stable honey, and ultra filtration, which is a deceptive, illegal and unethical practice." 

According to Food Safety News, the FDA says, it has occasionally been told of, or has found, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population. 

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