12/14/11

Honey: Where’d All the Pollen Go??

          According to a study conducted for Food Safety News, most honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t true honey.  This is because of a process known as ultra-filtration which filters out the pollen.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that any honey that has been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey.  That said, the agency has been slow to test honey and prevent false labeling.  Of all the samples tested from major stores such as Costco, Safeway, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target, over 75% did not contain pollen.  What’s more, of the honey sampled from drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Right-Aid) as well as small single-use packets at fast food restaurants (McDonalds, KFC, etc.), 100% did not contain pollen.


Why is honey ultra-filtered?
There is no reason for ultra-filtering honey except to mask its identity (removing pollen makes it virtually impossible to detect where honey came from).  For the most part, it’s believed that ultra-filtered honey comes from China.  By masking its origin, China can avoid paying expensive import tariffs and indirectly sell cheap honey to the U.S.  This is bad news for local U.S. honey producers, who are supposed to be protected by such tariffs.

Why is pollen important?
Probably due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, raw honey and pollen has been shown to improve certain stomach ailments and is also believed to improve certain allergic conditions. 

How Do I Buy Real Honey?
Results of the study showed that 100% of honey purchased at farmers markets, co-ops, and "natural" stores like Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.  In general, honey labeled as “organic” is more likely to contain pollen.  Of the organic honey analyzed in this study, over 70% contained heavy amounts of pollen.

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                                                                                                -Shahir Masri


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