Honey Adulteration - What Does It Mean?

Honey Adulteration - What Does It Mean?

As often as it happens, the issue of honey adulteration not widely talked about or generally known. So what exactly is it? Honey adulteration is the process of altering or cutting pure honey with fillers and cheaper sweeteners. Some of these sweeteners include corn syrup, sugars, and more recently, rice syrups. It may not be obvious why this is a problem, so let’s dive into the topic.

Honey Flowing into a spoon and into a bowl.

Pure or adulterated honey? It’s not easy to tell.

Imported and blended honey

In the last decade or so, the demand for honey has been steadily rising. In a time where everyone is more enlightened about their food choices and are wanting more natural food products, honey is a perfect choice. But because of this increased demand, honey suppliers are having a hard time keeping up. Unfortunately, much of the honey you see in grocery stores has been blended with imported honey from foreign countries to account for this gap in supply and demand. Here’s where we get to adulterated honey.

Fillers, cutting, and adulteration

Honey manufacturers in foreign countries have come up with ways to cut other products – known as “fillers” – into their honey. They then sell this altered honey for a fraction of the price of pure honey (since the fillers save on costs) to countries like Canada and the US, resulting in domestic, local honey not being able to compete with such low prices. This mass shipment of cheap, adultered honey to foreign countries has been dubbed “honey dumping”.

Large ship transporting shipping containers docked“Honey dumping” is when large amounts of cheap honey come in from foreign countries, such as China.

The honey that the consumer (you!) purchases at the grocery store is often not 100% Canadian honey, and sometimes, it’s not even 100% honey.  Contaminants and additives that have been cut into foreign honey ranges from antibiotics that are harmful to human health, to corn or rice syrups that lack the naturally-occuring vitamins and nutrients that pure, raw honey packs.These adultered honey products contain more calories and sugars, which jeopardize honey’s long-lasting shelf life.

While imported honey does go through testing for adulteration, foreign countries have been able to cheat the current testing technology by a) creating new, untraceable kinds of product fillers and b) filtering out plant pollen that would help identify the origin of the honey. Gross, right?

A collection of different beakers and flasksTesting technologies can’t keep up with foreign advances in honey adulteration.

So, if pure, raw, and unaltered honey is what you are after, choose to purchase from a trustworthy source. Visit your local beekeeper, or hey, check out our non-blended, 100% Canadian honey. You will be purchasing a healthy product that has only a single ingredient on its label: honey.

(P.S. For more information, you can watch the series Rotten on Netflix, as Episode 1 covers the honey fraud issue!)

A threat to Canadian beekeepers

Furthermore, imported honey threatens Canada’s beekeeping industry at large. Large-scale honey companies are blending their product with foreign honey, stamping a deceiving “Canada No. 1 Grade” label on it, and stocking the shelves of major grocery stores. Consumers then go to the grocery store and buy honey that looks like 100% Canadian honey, but in fact, is blended with honey from various foreign countries. In doing so, they are often unknowingly supporting the blended, adulterated honey market and threatening the businesses of small or family-based Canadian beekeepers.

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