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Researchers find most “honey” isn’t the real deal

What’s really in that plastic bear?

Well, we’ve officially hit the holiday season. And on this Thanksgiving Day, I want to wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday. I’m giving my thanks for my wonderful family and friends today–I hope you also have many things in your life to give thanks for.

After an abundant meal with my family this afternoon, I’ll settle in for an evening cup of tea on my parents’ porch. Maybe I’ll drizzle a little honey into that tea–and I’m suddenly very glad I know exactly where that honey comes from.

Because if I had bought it at the grocery store rather than directly from my favorite beekeeper at the local farmer’s market, chances are very good that I could have been in for a rude awakening.

Behind the smiling face on that plastic bear might not be honey after all, despite it so clearly saying so on the label. Instead, the sticky stuff in that container could be flower nectar with the pollen filtered out in a process that actually disqualifies that “honey” from passing most quality standards around the world.

Shockingly, according to the study sample a full 76 percent of what’s on the grocery store shelves fall into this category. And 100 percent of the honey purchased at major drug store chains including CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid had absolutely no pollen.

Food Safety News, the web-based news arm of Marler Clark, a law practice committed to serving the needs of victims of foodborne illness, reported earlier this month on the deceptive practice of producing pollen-less “honey.”

These products are created when honey is heated, watered down, and forced through filters at high pressure to remove the pollen.

Why is this such a big deal, besides the fact that it’s just plain wrong to lie to us? Quite simply, there’s no way to tell if these products are safe. Without pollen, the World Health Organization can’t tell the source of a batch of honey, and therefore can’t make any determination of its safety.

The FDA has a similar setup when it comes to honey, and has a rule that any product that doesn’t contain pollen isn’t honey…but they don’t actually check to see if honey in the U.S. actually contains pollen. Uh, thanks for that rule, I guess.

So what you’re buying might look like honey and taste like honey, but that’s about it. At best, it’s diluted down. At worst, these products could be tainted with antibiotics–as with Chinese manufacturers who have used a similar technique to flood the U.S. with tainted “honey.”

Here’s the good news–all of the honey that was purchased at farmers markets, co-ops, and natural food stores like Trader Joe’s was the real deal.

Keep in mind that most of the foreign honey that makes its way to the U.S. is used by the food industry in baked goods, sauces, and processed foods. So it’s not just the jars of honey you need to watch. Just one more great reason to avoid processed foods and make your own.

“Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey,” Food Safety News (