Most Honey Lacks Pollen and is Sourced from China

Honey lacks pollen in most cases in the U.S. Everywhere you turn these days it seems like more and more merchandise sold in the United States originates in China. According to Bryant Vaughn, professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, and top pollen expert, Americans can add one more thing to that list: honey. According to Food Safety News (FSN), more than 75 percent of the honey lacks pollen that is sold in our grocery stores. This is troubling because the Food and Drug Administration clearly states that honey no longer containing pollen can not be labeled as honey.

Honey isn’t Such a Sweet Deal at Walmart:

Honey lacks pollen in most U.S. grocery chain popular brands
Image by Food Safety News, a daily Web-based newspaper dedicated to reporting on food safety issues.

Andrew Schneider of FSN writes, “Without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.” He continues to tell FSN readers that, “The FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.”

Ultra filtered honey is brought to a high temperature and then pressed through filters to remove the pollen, the only ingredient that can identify the source country of the product. China is well known for utilizing that technique, and they’d have to because their honey has been known to sometimes contain illegal contaminants like antibiotics and heavy metals in them.

Schneider claims Food Safety News decided to test U.S. store bought honey after an earlier investigation of theirs found U.S. groceries selling Indian honey. (It was banned in Europe for the very same reasons: they were contaminated with antibiotics, heavy metals, and they lacked pollen.)

Honey Lacks Pollen in these Brands

Most honey lacks pollen on the shelves at major retailers across the country. Popular brands such as: Archer Farms, Busy Bee, American Choice, and Sue Bee are examples. Refer to FSN’s image for a complete listing of companies.

Schneider reports, “Bryant found that every one of the samples FSN bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.”

You may be asking yourself, so what’s the big deal if honey lacks pollen? Well, if you are buying honey for medicinal purposes you are getting completely ripped off. Bees pollen is nutrient rich. Pollen comes from the male seed of a flower and according to many scientists, when bees collect it their digestive enzymes break it down into the perfect health food. Bees pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins,  fatty acids, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids. The combination is anti-viral, antibacterial, and good for lowering cholesterol.  So that teaspoon of honey for your sore throat is meaningless if it comes from ultra filtered sources originating in China.

FSN warns readers that the only way to insure you are buying domestically produced honey or honey that is not ultra processed and imported from China is to buy organic brands. But avoiding Chinese sourcing isn’t the only reason to buy organic. Healthy-Family.org readers may remember a report we did in 2009 about high fructose corn syrup being fed to domestic bees by their keepers.

American honey packers claim they source the ultra filtered honey because U.S. shoppers want crystal clear honey and retailers want a longer shelf life for their honey. Traditional filtering, however, does a good job of catching bee parts, wax, and debris while leaving the pollen in the final product.

Ernie Groeb, the president and CEO of Groeb Farms Inc. claims there are several different filtering methods used by beekeepers and honey packers, but the only reason to completely remove the pollen is to hide your product’s origin. So why would the Chinese supplier want to do this?

Schneider claims, “Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where – in 2001 – the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.”

He further explains that China answered this tariff by shipping to other countries like India where their product was laundered, relabeled, and then continued on its journey to American honey packers.

As with the fishing industry, the FDA has also made little effort inspecting imported honey. Schneider warns that Chinese honey has been found to be contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics. These are dangerous, and possibly fatal to a very small percentage of Americans.

In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped to Canada and then on to a warehouse in Houston where it was sold to jelly maker J.M. Smuckers and the national baker Sara Lee.

Schneider claims, “By the time the FDA said it realized the Chinese honey was tainted, Smuckers had sold 12,040 cases of individually packed honey to Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sara Lee said it may have been used in a half-million loaves of bread that were on store shelves.”

Since January 2010, the U.S. has imported 208 million pounds of honey. It is used to supply restaurants and corporations that produce breads and other baked goods. About 60 percent of it came from Asian countries, all known for laundering Chinese honey, so the next time you’re in the market for honey, consider buying a local organic brand.

To read the study results in its entirety visit FSN’s report: Tests Show More Store Honey isn’t Honey.

Real, Raw Honey Can be Found in Health Food Stores, Organic Grocers,  and Online

Read a review about the Raw Honey Brand featured here, which is in our featured image..

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