You may have heard the phrase “honey adulteration”, but what does it mean? If you’re like me and hadn’t even heard the phrase before today, don’t worry… because as often as it happens, it’s not widely talked about or generally known. 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 me explain.

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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. Thus, 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 into their honey, known as “fillers”. 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, meaning domestic, local honey suppliers cannot compete with such low prices. This is what’s called honey dumping.

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“Honey dumping” is when large amounts of cheap honey come in from foreign countries, such as China.

What the consumer (you!) gets at the grocery store is quite often not 100% Canadian honey, nor is it sometimes even 100% honey. Contaminants can include antibiotics that are harmful to human health. Others can include corn or rice syrups that lack the naturally-occuring vitamins and nutrients that pure, raw honey packs.These adultered 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?

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Testing technologies can’t keep up with foreign advances in honey adulteration.

A threat to Canadian beekeepers

Furthermore, imported honey threatens Canada’s beekeeping industry at large – adulterated or not. Large-scale honey companies are blending their product with foreign honey, stamping a “Canada No. 1 Grade” label on it, and stocking the shelves of grocery stores. Consumers can go to the grocery store and buy “honey” that at first glance looks like 100% Canadian honey rather than purchasing from their local honey farmer. This inevitably supports the blended, adulterated honey market. Choosing to purchase from a reliable source means supporting local beekeepers who pride themselves in providing quality, raw honey from hive to table without any tricks.

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Photo source: https://www.laterre.ca/actualites/alimentation/miel-canada-no-1-piege-consommateur.php

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

For more information, I recommend watching the series Rotten on Netflix, as Episode 1 covers the honey fraud issue.

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