Chinese Honey : Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves. Here’s How To Know The Difference

The devastating reality is that one third of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is probably smuggled in from China, which means that there is a possibility that it is tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals.

Documents which resulted from the investigation of Food Safety News prove that we here consume millions of pounds of imported, unsafe honey, which is otherwise banned in numerous countries.

Chinese honey banned in Europe is flooding U.S grocery shelves heres how to know the difference.

Chinese honey banned in Europe is flooding U.S grocery shelves heres how to know the difference.

Even after the widespread arrests and convictions of major smugglers over the last two years, this flow of Chinese honey continues unstopped, despite assurances from the Food and Drug Administration and other federal officials that the hundreds of millions of pounds reaching store shelves were authentic and safe.

Food Safety News also interviewed numerous experts, which claim that some of the largest and most long-established U.S. honey packers are buying mislabeled, transshipped or possibly altered honey knowingly. Thus they have the chance to sell it cheaper than those companies who rigorously inspect honey and opt for quality and safety.



Richard Adee, the Washington Legislative Chairman of the American Honey Producers Association, points out that “It’s no secret that the honey smuggling is being driven by money, the desire to save a couple of pennies a pound.

These big packers are still using imported honey of uncertain safety that they know is illegal because they know their chances of getting caught are slim.”

All shipments of honey from India were barred by food safety investigators from the European Union due to the presence of lead and illegal animal antibiotics.

Moreover, investigations discovered that an even larger amount of honey apparently had been concocted without the help of bees, made from artificial sweeteners and then extensively filtered to remove any proof of contaminants or adulteration or indications of precisely where the honey actually originated.

The rampant honey laundering and the record amount of the Chinese honey purchased by major U.S. packers was proved by an examination of international and government shipping tallies, customs documents and interviews with some of North America’s top honey importers and brokers.



Suebee Co-Op, the nation’s oldest and largest honey packer and seller, was contacted by Food Safety News in order to respond to these allegations and to learn where it gets its honey. However, they remained silent, and did not answer to any call or emails that they repeatedly got. Other major honey sellers also did not return to calls and emails.

Indian Honey Will Not Be Consumed in EU

The countries of the European Union and more others officially banned this questionable honey at the beginning of June 2010. On the other hand, and on the other side of the ocean, we live in a place where the FDA checks few of the thousands of shipments arriving through 22 American ports each year.

Namely, FDA data shows that, between January and June, just 24 honey shipments were stopped from entering the country. The number of loads and the inspection team are not exposed by the agency.

Furthermore, during that same period, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that almost 43 million pounds of honey entered the U.S. Of that, the Department of Commerce said 37.7 million pounds came from India. Yes, we speak about the same honey that is banned in the EU due to lack of proper paperwork that it is not Chinese and proofs that it contained animal medicine and lead.

Elise Gagnon, president of Odem International, which is a worldwide trading house that specializes in bulk raw honey says that“There are still millions of pounds of transshipped Chinese honey coming in the U.S. and it’s all coming now from India and Vietnam and everybody in the industry knows that.”

FDA claims that it has regulations that prohibited foods which are banned in other countries from entering the U.S., but last month, its poor excuse was as follows:It “would not know about honey that has been banned from other countries …”

Adee said the European ban against Indian honey is far from a secret, so the response of the FDA’s is “absurd.”

He is the country’s largest honey producer, possessing 80,000 bee colonies in five states,and asks “Why are we the dumping ground of the world for something that’s banned in all these other countries?”-We’re supposed to have the world’s safest food supply but we’re letting in boatloads of this adulterated honey that all these other countries know is contaminated and FDA does nothing.”

Using the existing resources, the food safety agency claims that it invests the strongest efforts possible, and and will do more when the newly passed Food Safety Modernization Act is up and running.

What are the origins of the honey we consume?

The USDA says U.S. beekeepers can only supply about a 48 percent of what’s needed here. The remaining 52 percent comes from 41 other countries, and the U.S. consumes about 400 million pounds of honey a year – about 1.3 pounds a person. 35 percent of it is consumed in homes, restaurants and institutions, and the other 65 percent is used in industry for sauces, beverages,cereals, baked goods, and hundreds of different processed foods.

A private shipping intelligence service, Import Genius, searched its databases of all U.S. Customs import data for Food Safety News and provided the following information:

– Over the past 18 months, the U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey.

– Almost 60 percent of the imported honey, that is, 123 million pounds, came from Asian countries, the traditional laundering points for Chinese honey, with 45 million pounds coming from India alone.

– only about 48 million pounds came from trusted and usually reliable suppliers in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Uruguay.

Adee, who is also a past president of the American Honey Producers Association says that “this should be a red flag to FDA and the federal investigators. India doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity – enough bees – to produce 45 million pounds of honey. It has to come from China.”

What makes Chinese honey harmful?

In 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed a stiff tariff of $1.20 a pound on Chinese honey to dissuade that country from dumping its dirt-cheap product on the American market and forcing hundreds of U.S. beekeepers out of the business. Then, various illegal methods were used by Chinese honeymakers to hide the origin of their honey.

In the same period, Chinese beekeepers saw a bacterial epidemic of foulbrood disease race through their hives at wildfire speed, killing tens of millions of bees. This disease was fought against using several Indian-made animal antibiotics, including chloramphenicol.

Chloramphenicol as proved to have numerous harmful effects by medical researchers, and children given chloramphenicol as an antibiotic were found to be susceptible to DNA damage and carcinogenicity. Not long after this, its presence in food was banned by the FDA.

Ronald Phipps, head of the major honey brokerage firm CPNA International.andco-chairman of the International Committee for Promotion of Honey and Health comments on this situation by stating that“we need imported honey in this country.

But, “what we don’t need is circumvented honey, honey that is mislabeled as to country of origin, honey that is contaminated with antibiotics or heavy metal.” This is more than just a wise conclusion.

Source: Real Farmacy

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Sick honeybees may be nursed by doctors

Article originally published here here
By Richard Gray
22 October 2014

They are among the most industrious creatures on the planet, but honeybees still struggle when they’re ill. Once a disease takes hold inside a hive, the bees can become sluggish and disorientated, and many may die.

Now it seems honeybees may have a way of helping to keep their workforce healthy – by employing bees that feed “medicinal honey” to other members of the hive.

A group of worker bees called “nurse bees”, if they are infected with a parasite, selectively eat honey that has a high antibiotic activity, according to Silvio Erler of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany and his colleagues.



These bees are also responsible for feeding honey to the larvae and distributing it to other members of the colony. So it’s possible they are the hive’s doctors, prescribing different types of honey to other bees depending on their infection. If that is true, it could be a big part of how bees fight disease.

Honey and Herbal tea on wooden background - summer, health and organic food concept

Doctor, I’m sick, could you prescribe me some honey? (Credit: The Picture Pantry / Alamy)

In Erler’s study, nurse bees infected with a gut parasite called Nosema ceranae were given a choice of honeys. Three were made from the nectar of plants – black locust, sunflower and linden trees – while a fourth was honeydew honey made from the secretions of scale insects or aphids. Each of the honeys was known to have antibiotic activity.

Bees with greater levels of infection tended to eat more of the sunflower honey, which had the strongest antimicrobial activity. It reduced the level of infection in the bees that ate it by 7%, compared to the honey from the linden trees.



“Honeys are full of micronutrients, alkaloids and secondary plant compounds that are good for both bees and humans alike,” says Mike Simone-Finstrom of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. One study suggested they can increase the activity of honeybees’ immunity genes, boosting their ability to fight disease.

A separate study from September by Erler’s group suggests that different honeys are effective against different diseases. While sunflower honey is good at preventing the growth of bacteria that cause American foulbrood in bees, it is less effective against bacteria associated with European foulbrood. However, linden honey was more effective against these bacteria.

Disease spreads fast in densely-packed beehives

Disease spreads fast in densely-packed beehives (Credit: Todd Huffman, CC by 2.0)

“The in-hive worker bees might be in an exceptionally important position to distribute honey selectively in the colony that affects their own health but potentially also that of other nestmates,” says Erler.

His team is now investigating whether nurse bees select honeys from different sources depending on the infection they are fighting. If this turns out to be the case, it will reveal a level of medical care within honeybee hives not seen before.

With honeybees under threat from disease, climate change, pollution and new farming techniques, Erler says their medicinal abilities could prove invaluable. “Apiculturists might take advantage of specific honey flows to protect their colonies against specific diseases,” he says.

But we mustn’t overstate the medicinal role of honey, says Francis Ratnieks of the University of Sussex in Brighton. “If after six days of feeding just one type of honey you only get a 7% effect on infection, I would reckon that the effect in a hive would be less. Bees collect honey primarily as a food supply, not as medication.”

Dead honeybees are a source of dangerous infections

Dead honeybees are a source of dangerous infections (Credit: Jannis Tzimopulos / Alamy)

Honeybees do have other sources of medicine besides honey. For example, they collect resin from plants and incorporate it into their nests, where it may help combat fungal parasites. In 2012 Simone-Finstrom and a colleague showed that bees infected with fungal spores collected more of the resin.

Honeybees, along with other insects like ants, also display “hygienic” behaviour: workers carry dead members of the colony far away to avoid an infection spreading. Ratnieks is trying to breed honeybees that do this more often, to produce colonies that are more resistant to disease.

Bees are far from the only animals that can self-medicate. While humans reach for an aspirin to combat a headache, many primates including chimpanzees eat bitter bark and rough leaves that may help kill off parasites in their guts. Goats eat vegetation high in tannins when they are suffering from intestinal worms. Woolly bear caterpillars fight parasitic flies by eating plants rich in toxic chemicals, while wood ants incorporate antimicrobial resin from conifer trees in their nests.

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Saving honeybees in the US

honeybees on honeycomb

honeybees on honeycomb

With a workforce of billions, they contribute more than $15bn (£9bn) to the US economy each year – but as populations decline, can the humble honeybee be saved?

A giant inflatable corn on the cob towers over the hundreds of stalls at the Wisconsin State Fair. Food is the main draw, in what’s a showcase for local produce. The unhealthier, it seems, the better.



Families can be seen piling in mouthfuls of everything from sausages dripping in fat, to cheese curds, and sticky cherry pie. Some of the more unusual delicacies include deep-fried cookies and fish and chips on a stick.

Standing on the stage under the tent at the Wisconsin Food Pavilion are two immaculately dressed young women wearing crowns on their heads and sporting silk sashes, the kind usually seen at beauty pageants.

Anna Kettlewell (right) and Lois Hoftiezer Graf (second from right) join two other former Wisconsin Honey Queens in promoting the honey industry

Anna Kettlewell (right) and Lois Hoftiezer Graf (second from right) join two other former Wisconsin Honey Queens in promoting the honey industry

They are former Wisconsin “Honey Queens” – statewide ambassadors for the beekeeping and honey industry. Their job is to travel throughout the state, speaking about honeybees at schools, festivals and farmers’ markets.

Anna Kettlewell held the title in 1998. She is on stage showing off the benefits of the sticky stuff in a cooking demonstration, as she makes an ice-cream syrup.

But she is also here to educate people about the wider importance of the honeybee, which is the official state insect of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin honey producers association

Wisconsin honey producers association

“Honeybees are absolutely vital for the nation’s food supply. One third of our diet is dependent on the honeybee,” she says, reciting her Honey Queen talking points.

“The beekeeping industry in Wisconsin is very important for our cranberry industry. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating our cranberry crops in the state, which is our state fruit.”



Another Wisconsin Honey Queen, 60-year-old Lois Hoftiezer Graf, is handing out samples of the different varieties of honey made in the state. She dishes out spoonfuls dressed in the immaculately preserved sash she was given when she took the title in 1972.

“I think the marketing has improved quite a lot,” says Lois of the changes in the honey industry since then. “The other thing that has changed in our culture, is we’re much more interested in natural and organic foods.”

The honeybee is important to both the Wisconsin and the US economies

The honeybee is important to both the Wisconsin and the US economies

But as tastes have changed, so too have the fortunes of the honeybee, which has seen its population decline across the United States.

In the past 60 years the number of honeybee colonies has fallen from six million beehives in 1947, to just 2.5 million today, according to the White House.

The honeybee’s decline

honeybee cleaning spilt honey from damaged honeycomb

honeybee cleaning spilt honey from damaged honeycomb

In October 2006, some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90% of their hives. While colony losses are not unexpected, especially over the winter, this magnitude of losses was unusually high

In 1995-96, Pennsylvania beekeepers lost 53% of their colonies without a specific identifiable cause

In 1903, in the Cache Valley in Utah, 2,000 colonies were lost to an unknown “disappearing disease” after a “hard winter and a cold spring”

Source: US Department of Agriculture

This decline, the White House says, could pose a real threat to US agriculture, because of the role the honeybee plays in the pollination of fruit, nuts and vegetables.

It might be a tiny little insect, but one mouthful in three, directly or indirectly, benefits from honeybee pollination, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Honeybees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in the US.

honeybees on honeycomb

honeybees on honeycomb

In a sign of how seriously this is being taken, in June, President Obama launched a taskforce to protect the honeybee. The White House is investing $50m into research and action to stem the decline, improve habitats and promote better education around the issue.

It is welcome news for Ryan Stern, a beekeeper who runs Concord Farms in Sullivan, Wisconsin. His business began as a few hives, and is now a large, commercial operation.

“I was growing in [terms of] numbers of bee hives and I was starting to not be able to manage those bee hives and work full-time correctly, and I had to make a choice of what I wanted to do.

“I really enjoy working with the bees every day, it’s nice being out in the sun working with them. Being stung is not the most enjoyable thing but every job has its downfalls.”

Ryan Stern's business began as just a few hives but has grown over the years

Ryan Stern’s business began as just a few hives but has grown over the years

Ryan pulls out a frame from one of his 48 hives, to reveal a swarm of bees, navigating the honeycomb furiously. As he scratches a small section of the frame, a large, sticky drop of honey falls from it.

This is Ryan’s livelihood, but harsh winters, and pesticides have made it tough for him to keep all his bees alive.



“If you can keep your bees alive you can make money, but keeping bees alive definitely costs a lot of money by itself.

“Between the pests, the disease, nutrition, lack of forage, it’s definitely just a hard environment to keep them alive in, and unfortunately with genetically modified plants some of the pollens and stuff off of these crops you don’t really want to get into your bee hives.”

Some years Ryan says he measures success by how healthy his bees are, not by what is produced.

Ryan Stern says keeping bees alive is a costly business

Ryan Stern says keeping bees alive is a costly business

The White House has named Wisconsin as one of five states where farmers and ranchers will be given extra funding to continue their work in establishing new habitats for honeybee populations, but Ryan is not yet sure if his farm will reap the benefits of that.

Still, he thinks President Obama’s action on the bee industry is a good move, and he says everyone, even those who aren’t in agriculture, needs to focus more on the role the honeybee plays.

“You don’t have to have 100 acres to help with the issue. Every lawn, every yard can help. It’s important because it will affect the food supply everywhere.

“If there’s a shortage in one area, it’s a global economy, so it’s going to change food prices all across the world.”

Article originally published here

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