November 09, 2011

Most Honey Ain't Honey, Honey

Most honey sold in the supermarket barely deserves to be called "honey."
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey — some containing illegal antibiotics — on the U.S. market for years. 

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin. 
The old advice that you should eat local honey to reduce the severity of hay fever is bad science anyway, because the problem pollen is blown by winds, not carried by bees, so it will not be in the honey. But if there is any good to eating honey beyond the taste, local honey (definitely not Chinese or Indian honey) would be the best.

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