Not All Honey is Equal

Most consumers believe that honey is a natural product made by bees. Little do they know that to keep prices low, many commercial brands mix their honey with other less expensive cane, beet or corn sugars. These products are definitely sweet, but they are nothing more than health-destroying sugars in the same vein as white table sugar. No wonder people have health problems.

Also, few people know that honey should, as defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission which sets international food standards and trade, contain at least 95 percent bee pollen. Their Honey Standard specifies that no pollen or constituent particular to honey be removed except where its unavoidable when removing foreign matter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration concurs, honey without bee pollen is not honey.

Why is bee pollen so important?  Besides the health benefits of bee pollen and other honey constituents, products devoid of bee pollen are impossible to trace. Not knowing the point-of-origin and floral source hinders the ability of agencies charged with securing food supply to judge the safety of these products.

The problem is huge.  According to a U.S. Food Safety News study of 60 jars of different honey products purchased across the United States, 76 percent of grocery store products were free of bee pollen. Honey products sampled from major drugstore chains were completely free of bee pollen, as were individual packaged servings.  Honey bought at farmers markets, co-ops, natural and health food stores did contain bee pollen with organic and raw honey products having the most bee pollen.

Consumers who buy honey for its nutritional benefits, distinguishing a health-promoting honey from a health-destroying sweet imitation is difficult. Harvested in countries where environmental pollution is rife, and crops are sprayed with pesticides and antibiotics on hives, these high fructose syrups are toxic in more ways than one.

When chloramphenicol-laced Chinese honey was found in the baked goods and jams of two well-known U.S. food brands by the U.S. FDA, ethical suppliers started testing their honey for antibiotics and other contaminants, and for purity.  What was revealed was frightening. Ultra-filtration, a process developed by the Chinese, removes bee pollen, creating a nutritionally dead product with a long shelf life.  Without bee pollen, this fake honey is impossible to trace as officials can’t ID the source.

Removing bee pollen benefits low cost, subsidized honey-producing countries such as China who dump their product in the North American and European markets. This undercuts local producers who have higher quality standards for honey and stricter regulatory controls. Consumers are starting to know the difference between real honey and fake honey.

Consumers are also becoming educated about the benefits of 100% pure unprocessed honey. They are supporting local beekeepers and local companies like NutraBee™ who offer 100% pure unprocessed Canadian honey. They want companies to guarantee their honey products to be free from chemical residue, heavy metals or other contaminants. Greater public awareness is also driving demand for raw honey as a healthy sweetener in all the foods they buy.

Note: This article should not be considered substitutes for professional medical care and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any specific disease and is for informational purposes only. Bee products may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, consult your health care practitioner for guidance.