Andrew Schneider | What’s Wrong With Chinese Honey?
Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where – in
2001 – the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or
taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap,
heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of
To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping
honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the
color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a
bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey. Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the
sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.
The FDA — either because of lack of interest or resources — devoted
little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had
occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey
contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics
which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the
Mostly, the adulteration went undetected. Sometimes FDA caught it.
In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped
to Canada and then on to a warehouse in Houston where it was sold to
jelly maker J.M. Smuckers and the national baker Sara Lee.
By the time the FDA said it realized the Chinese honey was tainted,
Smuckers had sold 12,040 cases of individually packed honey to
Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sara Lee said it may have been used in a
half-million loaves of bread that were on store shelves.
Eventually, some honey packers became worried about what they were
pumping into the plastic bears and jars they were selling. They began
using in-house or private labs to test for honey diluted with
inexpensive high fructose corn syrup or 13 other illegal sweeteners or
for the presence of illegal antibiotics. But even the most sophisticated
of these tests would not pinpoint the geographic source of the honey. [since the pollen was ultra-filtered out]
Food scientists and honey specialists say pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey’s source.
Federal investigators working on criminal indictments and a very few
conscientious packers were willing to pay stiff fees to have the pollen
in their honey analyzed for country of origin. That complex, multi-step
analysis is done by fewer than five commercial laboratories in the
But, Customs and Justice Department investigators told Food Safety
News that whenever U.S. food safety or criminal experts verify a method
to identify potentially illegal honey – such as analyzing the pollen –
the laundering operators find a way to thwart it, such as
The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18
months. Almost 60 percent came from Asian countries – traditional
laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds
from India alone.
And websites still openly offer brokers who will illegally transship
honey and scores of other tariff-protected goods from China to the U.S. _____________ From me - By this time you probably think you know too much about honey if you have read this far! But as a public service I thought you should at least be aware of this information. The article goes on about the FDA but I thought you all may be getting a bit bored so I will let those that want to real more go to the article:
By the way, Raw Honey from local hives are filtered but not ultra-filtered, no heavy metals or antibiotics contaminate the honey. Much thanks to Andrew Schneider and Food Safety News for this information.