bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Infiltrated and ultra-filtered honey

Anyone concerned about the quality of honey should read an article in today's Guardian (a UK newspaper) about honey laundering and honey adulteration. It's not a comfortable read, but it's worth the time — especially for the piece about UF honey towards the end.

It talks about Chinese honey being passed off as Indian, Singaporian and many other countries' honey to avoid the ban in some parts of the world (just ended in the EU):
In the past 12 months, honey labelled as the produce of Cyprus, Tanzania, Moldova, Romania, Argentina, Portugal, Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria and Vietnam has turned up in European ports, honey blenders and supermarkets, testing positive for chloramphenicol [an antibiotic].
China rejects claims that anything containing chloramphenicol must be from China and claims:
“the industry organisation Apimondia convened a world conference in Germany two years ago to discuss this problem, after a survey of the international honey industry reported that “sulfonamides were found in Canadian honey, tetracycline and streptomycin in American, Mexican and Argentine honey, miticides and insecticides in American honey and chloramphenicol in Chinese and European honey.”
The article then goes on to talk about ultra-filtered (UF) and fine filtered honey:
...UF according to most honey experts, [is] not honey at all. Instead it is “a sweetener derived from honey” — honey that has been diluted with gallons of water, heated up to a high temperature, passed through an ultra-fine ceramic or carbon filter, and then evaporated down to a syrup again. In the process, every trace of impurity — including, some believe, traces of chloramphenicol — are removed.
One source thought that UF honey might be being used quite widely in the American food industry.


Blogger Martin said...

Saturday's Guardian carried this letter in response to that story:

It is worrying to hear of contaminated honey coming from other non-UK sources and of the increase in ultrafiltered honey (A bitter taste of honey, G2, July 21). Ultrafiltering honey to remove pollen destroys the product and the taste.

May I encourage your readers to seek out honey from a local beekeeper? Such honey will not be ultrafiltered, or even fine-filtered, as small-scale beekeepers do not have access to such equipment.

Claire WaringBritish Beekeepers' Association

1:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An AP report on the EU dropping their ban on many Chinese food products includes the statement "the Chinese would test all consignments of food for export and to issue sanitary certificates only for those in conformity with EU requirements."

This seems a little like trusting the fox to guard the hen house.

Can China be trusted to test their own products and how much credence can be placed in their own "sanitary certificates" after widespread reports of international honey smuggling? The deceptions included in transshipping through developing countries and disguising the country of origin for their honey are troublesome. This has taken place on a global level for the past two years.

Am I the only skeptic?

5:14 pm  
Blogger Cat said...

The link below shows the report by the FDA on honey from China. This report is from 2002, but caused lots of concern here in the US.

12:23 am  

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