Let’s find out!
Believe it or not, honey can be doctored to look like the real thing when it actually isn’t. According to Insider magazine, honey is one of the most faked foods in the world.
First of all, What is fake food?
There is an entire industry devoted to trying to mimic real flavors (and smells) using synthetic chemicals. Food scientists are employed by many major food companies to create mouthwatering foodstuffs that resemble real food. This is cheaper than using real ingredients and guarantees a constant supply.
What is fake honey?
In the case of honey, there are honey launderers whose job is to make modifications that manage to bypass honey authenticity testing. This is often done by obscuring the origins of the honey. American regulation is weak, and consumers can’t tell if it contains cheap sweeteners or antibiotics. They don’t know what to look for so rely on supermarkets to know what they are carrying, but they don’t test honey either.
The American Beekeeping Federation requested that the FDA create a definition of honey so that it could not be counterfeited. They rejected the plea, and maintained their outdated and ineffective litmus test: Websters dictionary, which defines honey as “a thick, sweet syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers”. This allows for plenty of deliberate manipulation. There are no consequences for making false claims.
Honey scams reportedly date back to 1881. The substance can easily be faked with glucose, a little honey for taste, and some bee body parts for authenticity. YUK.
According to Forbes, two honeys that are both labeled “USDA Grade A 100% organic clover honey from Arizona” could be dramatically different: one is what the label says it is, and the other is a blend of honeys from all over the world, filtered through high heat—which destroys valuable enzymes—is made with corn syrup, antibiotics, and other chemicals, and contains nothing from Arizona. Yes folks, this is the reality.
Read about the scandal called Honeygate about two law-breaking honey-processing companies. They swindled the US government out of $180 million dollars in taxes, shipped the honey through other countries to obscure its Chinese origin, and concealed that it contained an unauthorized antibiotic.
Why you don’t want fake honey
It may be ultra-processed (link to my article)
It’s ultra-filtered, removing its natural health properties, including the fingerprint of the pollen. This makes it more liquid and easier to squeeze out of a bottle. In its natural state honey is crystalized.
It may be diluted
It may be stripped of the nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins that make it a healthy food.
It may contain artificial sweeteners or industrial corn syrup.
It may contain pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants.
It may be a Chinese product that was imported illegally and evaded regulation.
Here’s a list of ingredients that are often found in fake, or adulterated honey:
- cane sugar
high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
My son, Chef Sizzle-Snap, and I, decided to investigate. We went to a typical grocery store and bought a variety of brands, took them home, and put them to the test. What did we discover?
How to test honey
There’s one foolproof litmus test. You probably know that nature is full of complex patterns—you can see it on insects, leaves, and many of nature’s other wonders. Conveniently, it is also present in honey, and it’s called the honeycomb. According to the American Beekeeping Foundation, real honey contains pollen, which can be tested to show which plants in which countries the bees visited and it retains its signature stamp: the pattern of the honeycomb.
The FDA and USDA require no inspection of honey, whatsoever, so manufacturers can put whatever they want on the label and claim that it is the purest honey in the universe when it’s actually corn syrup.
Look to see where the honey comes from, not where it’s bottled. It may be fake honey from China that is bottled in the US.
The purest honey will come from a beekeeper. But if you don’t have access to one, we’re here to arm you with the skills to test your own honey. Here’s the “supertest”:
If you place a few tablespoons of honey in a bowl, cover it with water and then agitate it , it should eventually form a honeycomb pattern. Real honey will form the most obvious honeycomb pattern, as it retains its DNA. If extra ingredients are present the honeycomb pattern will be less recognizable.
There are a few other tests you can try, like the flame test and the mason jar shake test and the wet napkin test and the apple cider vinegar test.
It’s easy to buy real honey. Just buy local, preferably at a farmers market. Avoid big supermarket brands.