“Honey laundering”

Is there anything that can’t be contaminated? Apparently not. The latest news is about honey. Last month a story in Grist summarized an article by Food Safety News which revealed that much of our honey supply is smuggled in from China – smuggled because of possible contamination with heavy metals (heavy metals are elements like arsenic, lead, and mercury) or illegal antibiotics.

The FDA is apparently not doing enough to inspect imports or to stop shipments from countries that are known to sell contaminated honey. Their counterparts in the European Union, however, have done more, banning questionable imports from India, which may serve as a middleman between China (with tainted honey) and U.S. markets.

An expert interviewed for the Food Safety News article says, “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,” said Elise Gagnon, president of Odem International, a distributor of bulk raw honey.

So it’s honey laundering.

Actually, this may be a good time to start using another sweetener altogether. I hate to think of bees being killed so we can have the fruits of their hard work, and I also know that bees are needed to pollinate many species of plants here and abroad. So check out things like brown rice syrup, agave nectar, molasses, and other plant sources.

Photo by Muhammad Karim on Flickr

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