Monday, December 5, 2011

Ultrafiltration of Honey

Honey bees use enzymes that they produce in their bodies to convert the sugars from the nectar of flowers into a concentrated, high-energy food that we know as honey. Along with sugars, honey contains enzymes and pollen from flowers growing in the area. That pollen can be used to identify the source of the honey. A recent report concerning the removal of pollen from honey brought considerable public discussion about the deliberate removal of pollen from honey by unscrupulous importers of foreign honey. The report by investigative journalist Andrew Schneider appeared in Food Safety News at Schneider reported that independent testing of samples of honey found that three fourths of the honey on grocery store shelves could not even be called honey because pollen, a component of natural honey, had been removed. To hide the country of origin, some honey is highly processed by ultrafiltration to remove all pollen.

Responding to the discussion brought about by Schneider’s report, Dan Charles writes in NPR’s food blog,, in defense of honey on the grocery store shelf. Many in the public understand the deceptive practices of a few, but a number of citizens are confused about what real honey truly is. Many seek out a local beekeeper and purchase honey produced in their area. However, at almost every farmers market or honey sales event that we attend, we have individuals ask for sugar-free honey. Hearing that there is no such thing as a sugar-free honey, one lady exclaimed that she knew that there was because she had seen it on the grocery shelf. I assured her that the product did not come from a bee hive. Adulterated products are sometimes labeled to appear to be honey. Some contain high fructose corn sweetener and are labeled as “honey sauce.” Many processed food items boast on the label to contain honey while it is only a minor component. For information about honey, see the National Honey Board’s web site, Enjoy real honey.

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