Counterfeit honey is a growing problem in the global food industry. In the North East of England we have many colloquialisms, or slang terms, and i refer to adulterated honey as snide! Many people assume that honey is a natural, healthy food, but the reality is that much of the honey that is sold in shops is actually fake, adulterated or contaminated. Let’s take an in-depth look at counterfeit honey, exploring what it is, its impact on human health and the reasons behind its proliferation in the market.
A recent investigation
An EU investigation has revealed that almost half of the honey imported into the European Union may be snide. The European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) tested 320 samples and found that 147 (46%) were suspected of being adulterated with syrups and did not meet EU Honey Directive requirements. Most of the counterfeit honey came from Turkey (93%) and China (74%). Additionally, all 10 honeys imported via the UK failed the tests and were marked “non-compliant”. The JRC suggests that the honey may have been produced in other countries before being processed in the UK and re-exported to the EU.
How is this honey snide?
Counterfeit, or snide, honey is any honey that has been altered, blended with other substances or is not pure in terms of its origin. This includes honey that has been mixed with corn syrup, glucose or other sweeteners, as well as honey that has been collected from bees that have been overfed sugar syrup rather than nectar from flowers.
The UK Government Department for Environment & Rural Affairs sets out legal standards for labelling products as honey
Honey composition and labelling is controlled by The Honey (England) Regulations 2015. This legislation lays down reserved descriptions that must be used for:
- the source from which the honey is obtained (for example, blossom, honeydew)
- the processes by which it’s obtained (for example, drained, extracted)
- the way it’s presented (for example, comb, chunk honey)
The regulations lay down detailed specifications honey must comply with in terms of its composition and sets out some general quality criteria for honey.
If you use one of the reserved descriptions (for example, ‘comb honey’ or ‘honeydew honey’), your product must be made according to the defined compositional criteria.https://www.gov.uk/guidance/food-standards-labelling-durability-and-composition#honey
Honey and Human Health
Counterfeit honey not only has an impact on human health but also on our environment. The long-term impact of this snide honey on human health is not yet clear.
One of the biggest concerns with counterfeit honey is the presence of harmful additives, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that has been linked to obesity, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions. Other harmful additives may include antibiotics used in beekeeping or pesticides used in the production of the honey.
Counterfeit honey may also have a negative impact on local economies and the environment. Alduterated honey producers can undercut legitimate honey producers by selling their products at a lower price. This can result in small beekeeping operations being driven out of business, with negative consequences for the environment, agriculture, and local communities.
“If you see honey that is as cheap as 75p a jar, it is too good to be true. It’s unrealistic for people to be able to produce genuine honey at those prices.Lynne Ingram, master beekeeper at Wesley Cottage Bees – Taken from the Huffington Post 29/03/2023
See the article in the Huffington Post; Sorry, We’ve Got Bad News About That Jar of Honey in Your Cupboard
Reasons Behind the Proliferation of Snide Honey
There are several reasons why snide honey is so prevalent in the food industry. One of the main reasons is the high demand for honey, combined with the costs of producing it.
Another reason for the proliferation of counterfeit honey is the lack of regulation in the industry. In many cases, it is difficult to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit honey, and the labelling of honey products can often be misleading or vague. Additionally, many food producers are not held to rigorous testing standards, which makes it easy to pass off counterfeit honey as genuine.
Counterfeit honey is a growing problem in the global food industry, with potential negative impacts on human health, local economies, and the environment. Ultimately, the honey industry needs to be more transparent and regulated to ensure that consumers can have confidence in the authenticity and safety of the honey products they purchase.
You can contribute to change by signing this petition. By changing the way honey is currently labelled, together with the recent findings by the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, we can hopefully see an end to snide honey appearing on our shelves.
Require honey labels to reflect all countries of origin of the honey.
Currently the country of origin on labels can be replaced, if the honey originates from multiple countries, with ‘blend of EU/non-EU/EU and non-EU honeys’. We believe this is insufficient to allow consumers to make an informed choice. All countries where the honey originated should be listed.https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/624402
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So what about genuine honey?
Honey is a delicious and sweet treat that has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. There is evidence of honey dating back to the Egyptians! It is packed with incredible properties, all made possible by the amazing Honeybee.
Here are some of the most impressive benefits of honey:
Honey is rich in antioxidants and antiviral properties, which can help boost your immune system. It is an exciting time with more research happening surrounding this wonderful product
Promotes wound healing
Honey has been used for centuries as a natural wound healer. Its antibacterial properties can help prevent infection, while its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce swelling and pain. Applying honey to a wound can stimulate the growth of new tissue and speed up the healing process. Honey is currently used medicinally in the NHS
Soothes sore throats
Honey has been used for coughs and as a sore throat remedy for centuries. Its thick consistency and antibacterial properties can coat the throat and soothe irritation, while its natural sweetness can help alleviate coughing.
Helps with digestion
Consuming honey can aid in digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This was discussed in a recent BBC Radio Four programme Sliced Bread
Honey is a natural energy booster and can be used as a healthier alternative to processed sugars. The glucose found in honey is quickly absorbed by the body and can provide a quick burst of energy.
Honey’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help soothe skin inflammation and irritation. Applying honey to the skin can also help moisturize and smooth the skin, making it a popular ingredient in many natural beauty products.
Honey is an incredibly versatile and beneficial natural substance that has been used for centuries for its health-giving properties. From boosting immunity and promoting wound healing to aiding in digestion and providing energy, honey has numerous benefits that make it a great addition to any diet.
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Here’s a great article i wrote about a honeybee colony extraction follow this link