Thursday, August 18, 2011

Honey Laundering - Beware the Honey You Are Buying


I just came across a very disturbing report about honey being imported from Asia.

The article in Food Safety News which is about how Chinese honey, that is being rejected by other countries, is ending up on American grocery shelves. The report from Food Safety News documented this:
A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

And the flow of Chinese honey continues despite assurances from the Food and Drug Administration and other federal officials that the hundreds of millions of pounds reaching store shelves were authentic and safe following the widespread arrests and convictions of major smugglers over the last two years....

Food safety investigators from the European Union barred all shipments of honey from India because of the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics. Further, they found an even larger amount of honey apparently had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated.

It's just unconscionable - and the FDA is doing nothing to protect us. (For all of you FDA fans out there, here is yet another example of how this agency is useless).
Much of this questionable honey was officially banned beginning June 2010 by the 27 countries of the European Union and others. But on this side of the ocean, the FDA checks few of the thousands of honey shipments arriving through 22 American ports each year.

According to FDA data, between January and June, just 24 honey shipments were stopped from entering the country. The agency declined to say how many loads are inspected and by whom.

However, during that same period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that almost 43 million pounds of honey entered the U.S. Of that, the Department of Commerce said 37.7 million pounds came from India, the same honey that is banned in the EU because it contained animal medicine and lead and lacked the proper paperwork to prove it didn’t come from China.

“There are still millions of pounds of transshipped Chinese honey coming in the U.S. and it’s all coming now from India and Vietnam and everybody in the industry knows that,” said Elise Gagnon, president of Odem International, a worldwide trading house that specializes in bulk raw honey.

The FDA says it has regulations prohibiting foods banned in other countries from entering the U.S. However, the agency told FSN this month that it “would not know about honey that has been banned from other countries …”

Adee called the FDA’s response “absurd.” He said the European ban against Indian honey is far from a secret.

“Why are we the dumping ground of the world for something that’s banned in all these other countries?” asked Adee, who, with 80,000 bee colonies in five states, is the country’s largest honey producer.

We’re supposed to have the world’s safest food supply but we’re letting in boatloads of this adulterated honey that all these other countries know is contaminated and FDA does nothing.”...

Chinese honeymakers began using various illegal methods to conceal the origin of their honey beginning in about 2001. That’s when the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a stiff tariff – as much as $1.20 a pound — on Chinese honey to dissuade that country from dumping its dirt-cheap product on the American market and forcing hundreds of U.S. beekeepers out of the business.

About the same time, Chinese beekeepers saw a bacterial epidemic of foulbrood disease race through their hives at wildfire speed, killing tens of millions of bees. They fought the disease with several Indian-made animal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol. Medical researchers found that children given chloramphenicol as an antibiotic are susceptible to DNA damage and carcinogenicity. Soon after, the FDA banned its presence in food.
Please read the full report. It's an eye opener.

All the more reason to BUY LOCAL HONEY!

3 comments:

Susan Ryan said...

Use local and don't ever rely on the government to protect.

steadyjohn said...

Thanks Judy for bringing this to our attention. We have so many local honey producers here in CT that it would be a shame to buy adulterated product from China. I scrutinize very carefully food products from China, India and other nations in the region.

Rebekah said...

Thank you for posting this. I just bought some honey from Wal-Mart yesterday and examined it....sourced from India, Brazil, Uraguay, and Vietnam. Believe me, it's getting returned tomorrow. I wish I had an easy source of local honey.