Is Your Honey Really Honey?
Whether it’s in the little plastic bear or in a Mason jar with a chunk of beeswax still attached, if it looks like honey and tastes like honey, it must be honey . . . right?
Real, authentic honey always contains pollen, according to the Food and Drug Administration. If it doesn’t contain pollen, it isn’t honey. Using that criteria, a large percentage of honey sold in the United States isn’t really honey. In fact, a study done in 2011 showed that more than 75 percent of the honey sold in the nation’s retail stores contained no pollen and shouldn’t really be considered honey at all.
Natural honey is produced by bees from the pollen and nectar of flowering plants. Natural honey from a hive contains microscopic pollen grains, which can identify the plants used to make the honey. In the standard honey making process, honey is filtered to remove debris like waxes and bee parts. This type of filtration is not a problem because it does not remove much pollen and does not impact the honey beyond making it a cleaner, slightly more shelf stable product.
Ultra-filtration, however, is a different thing altogether. Ultra-filtration is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, diluted with water or high fructose corn syrup and then forced at high pressure through very small filters. Not only does this process remove the pollen from the honey, it removes any way to identify where the honey was produced.
How Can You Tell if Your Honey is Really Honey?
- Read the label. If the ingredients list includes high fructose corn syrup or some other form of sweetener, it’s not pure honey.
- Honey that is labeled “organic” usually contains pollen grains and is real honey.
- Honey purchased at a farmer’s market or local farm is usually processed in the same location as the honey is produced and is real honey.
Why Do You Care Where Your Honey Comes From?
Much of this ultra-filtered honey comes from China, Vietnam, or India and may contain harmful antibiotics, cheap high fructose corn syrup and cancer causing ingredients.
Honey has been shown to have great health benefits and is credited with treating stubborn wounds successfully and reducing allergy symptoms. But this only works if the honey is real. Make sure your honey is honey if you want to take advantage of all it has to offer.