The next time you find yourself in the honey aisle of your grocery store, thinking which honey to buy, the pricy premium, artisanal honey or the store-brand nectar contained in a plastic bear, you might want to think twice before choosing based on price.
A searing investigation of the honey market (led by the Food Safety News) found that 76% of all honey bought at grocery stores were treated with a process called “ultra-filtration”. “Ultra-filtration” removes not only the impurities such as wax, but also all traces of pollen. The ones that were far-and-away the most likely to be ultra-filtered were generic brands.
In general, there are very big issues with ultra-filtration. Many people believe that pollen, and other so-called “impurities”, are actually beneficial to human health. Many believe they make honey a better choice than rival sweeteners like sugar. The truth however is that ultra-filtration doesn’t give any benefits. It’s expensive and does not significantly improve shelf-life, even though some manufacturers claim it does.
The biggest reason to avoid ultra-filtered honey, according to FSN, is that pollen is the only sure-fire way to trace the source of honey to a geographic location. As you can imagine, ultra-filtered honey is often used to mask the shady origins of certain kinds of honey, for example the Chinese honey, subject to heavy import tariffs on account of its frequent contamination by heavy metals and illegal antibiotics.Chinese honey makers ultra-filter their honey, and then ship it through byzantine paths, to sneak their sham product onto American grocery shelves without being hit with a tariff.
Food Safety News honey samples were sent to premier melissopalynologist and professor at Texas A&M University, Vaughn Bryant. He found that roughly three fourths of the honey contained no pollen, thus making the honey unidentifiable and unsafe. He also found that:
- 100 percent of Winnie the Pooh sold in Walmart stores had all pollen removed.
- 100 percent of honey from individual packets from KFC and McDonald’s had all pollen removed.
- 77 percent of honey from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Target had no traced of pollen.
- 100 percent of honey from drugstores like Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacy had all the pollen filtered out.
He also found out that, honey purchased from stores like Trader Joes, co-ops and farmers’ markets contained the full amount of original pollen.
It has been asked from the FDA to do more in preventing adulterated and smuggled honey from landing on grocery shelves. However the FDA has so far shrugged off the burden.
Labeling regulations have just been changed by the EU. It is now required that honey containers list “pollen” as an ingredient.
There are approximately 20 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 16 minerals, and a ton of antioxidants and phytonutrients in one ounce of raw honey. An antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal substance, raw honey is also highly nutritious.It contains significant amounts of B2, B3, B5, B6, C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, and phosphate.
In the end, there is good news for worried consumers. They do have a good option, buying honey from farmers’ markets and natural food stores. An investigation conducted by the FSN showed that few, if any, of the honeys sold there had been subject to ultra-filtration.
Source: Organic Health