By Karen Foster
There are well over 30 commercial producers of honey that have no traces of pollen and lack beneficial vitamins and enzymes among a host of other natural constituents which are removed due to pasteurization and processing.
Most golden honey you see at your local grocery is dead and far from the health promoting powerhouse of its raw unpasteurized counterpart. Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the real stuff.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey.
However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold in the U.S. to see if it contains pollen.
Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey — some containing illegal antibiotics — on the U.S. market for years.
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.
They purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.
Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News, 76 percent or more had the pollen removed including stores such as Walgreens, Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
Why Remove the Pollen?
We can only assume to prevent the majority of the public from obtaining all the benefits found in raw honey. Removal of all pollen from honey “makes no sense” and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.
“I don’t know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey,” Jensen said.
“In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” he added.
What’s Wrong With Chinese Honey?
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.
To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.
Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.
The FDA — either because of lack of interest or resources — devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.
Mostly, the adulteration went undetected.
What’s Are Differences Between Raw Unpasteurized Honey and Pasteurized Processed Golden Honey?
The processing of honey often removes many of the phytonutrients found in raw honey as it exists in the hive. Raw honey, for example, contains small amounts of the same resins found in propolis. Propolis, sometimes called “bee glue,” is actually a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other micro-organisms. Honeybees make propolis by combining plant resins with their own secretions. However, substances like road tar have also been found in propolis.
Bee keepers sometimes use special screens around the inside of the hive boxes to trap propolis, since bees will spread this substance around the honeycomb and seal cracks with the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal resins. The resins found in propolis only represent a small part of the phytonutrients found in propolis and honey, however. Other phytonutrients found both in honey and propolis have been shown to posssess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties. These substances include caffeic acid methyl caffeate, phenylethyl caffeate, and phenylethyl dimethylcaffeate.
Researchers have discovered that these substances prevent colon cancer in animals by shutting down activity of two enzymes,phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C and lipoxygenase. When raw honey is extensively processed and heated, the benefits of these phytonutrients are largely eliminated.
Speakers at the First International Symposium on Honey and Human Health, presented a number of research papers. The research was applied to raw unpasteurized honey and the findings included:
In healthy subjects, while sugar and artificial honey had either negative or very small beneficial effects, natural honey reduced total cholesterol 7%, triglycerides 2%, C-reactive protein 7%, homocysteine 6% and blood sugar 6%, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol 2%. (Like C-reactive protein, homocysteine is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.)
In patients with high cholesterol, artificial honey increased LDL (bad) cholesterol, while natural honey decreased total cholesterol 8%, LDL cholesterol 11%, and C-reactive protein 75%.
And in patients with type 2 diabetes, natural honey caused a significantly lower rise in blood sugar than either dextrose or sucrose (refined sugars). So, enjoy a little honey in your morning coffee, lunchtime yogurt or afternoon cup of green tea. Looks like a daily spoonful of honey may help your need for medicine go down.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Pure Honey and Artificial Honey?
Inverted sugar solutions and glucose syrups or corn are often used for making fake honey, mixing with it, or replacing it entirely.
Another method for falsification of honey is feeding bees with sugar products.
The “innocent” method of honey falsification is the addition of water (honey containing more than 25% water, is considered to be falsified)
Worldwide, adulterated honey is deemed, counterfeiting ranks second among the food industry – the extra virgin olive oil.
Artificial honey is a food with many shortcomings, representing a solution of invert sugar syrup, which comes from refined sugar, which often add other ingredients, generally summarized as: glucose syrup, dyes, flavors and enhancer flavors. Such a synthetic preparation can be achieved in domestic conditions, but you need to know it is not healthy. Artificial honey contains a physical mixture of glucose and fructose focused elements that have separated from the previous combination, that of sucrose (sugar). It is known that both are in high concentrations, even more dangerous than the original form, crystalline carbohydrates entering the category of very rapid absorption substances.
Artificial inverted sugar, also called artificial honey, is a syrup, soluble in water, with sweet taste, resulted from the hydrolysis of sucrose. It is widely used in food industry as sweetener, attracting criticism from many nutritionists and doctors.
4 WAYS TO SPOT ARTIFICIAL HONEY
1. The Thumb Test
Put a drop of the honey on your thumb. If it spreads around right away or spills, it’s not pure. If it stays intact, it’s pure.
2. The Water Test
Fill a glass of water and add one tablespoon of “honey” into the water. Pure honey will lump and settle at bottom of glass. Adulterated and artificial honey will start dissolving in water.
3. The Shelf Life Test
Pure honey will crystallize over time. Imitation honey will remain looking like syrup, no matter how long it is stored.
4. Light a Fire
Dip the tip of a matchstick in “honey”, and then strike it to light. Natural honey will light the match easily and the flame will burn off the honey. Fake honey will not light because of the moisture it contains.