Work being done by the industry to ensure honey’s purity will continue
PHOENIX, Ariz. (March 19, 2019) – An independent test of top selling honey products sold in U.S. grocery stores found zero instances of adulteration. In all, the 30 top selling products were tested, all of which represented the top items in the honey category as determined by Nielsen’s recent 2018 honey category research. These brands account for approximately 40 percent of the honey sold in the U.S. retail market. The study was commissioned by the Honey Integrity Task Force, an organization made up of representatives from the entire honey industry including importers, packers, producers, marketing cooperative members and an organization that specializes in honey supply chain management.
An independent third party company, RQA Inc., was hired to conduct the study. They pulled two sets of each of the 30 samples from retail shelves across the country. The honey sample brand names were masked, and the samples were sent to two independent German laboratories that specialize in honey testing, QSI and Intertek.
Each lab conducted two adulteration tests, the AOAC-approved 998.12, 13C-Isotope Mass Spectrometry and 13C-IRMS (EA IRMS)/ +LC-IRMS method for C4/C3 adulteration. Both tests are well recognized methods designed to determine if any sugar was added to the honey.
Of the 28 products that were labeled at retail locations as pure honey, the tests from both labs confirmed the samples were not adulterated. Two of the 30 products were actually labeled as honey blends, not pure honey. Both labs correctly identified them as “adulterated.” One was an imitation honey made with maltitol syrup and the other was a combination product with both corn syrup and honey.
“Consumers have every right to expect they’re getting pure honey when they purchase something labeled as such,” said Christi Heintz, Director for the Honey Integrity Task Force. “While the results of this study are very encouraging, we certainly aren’t declaring victory. We view it as validation that our efforts are working, and we hope it gives consumers more confidence in a system that’s been created to protect them. However, our work is never complete and we will continue to work hard and find newer and better ways to ensure the purity of our products.”
The Honey Integrity Task Force plans to conduct more independent testing of honey products in 2019.
Honey is one of nature’s original products, and it is made by bees with no additives or preservatives of any kind. It is one of many food products that can be vulnerable to what is known as economically motivated adulteration, a term used when unscrupulous players within the honey supply chain use cheaper ingredients to lower their production costs and then sell the product as pure honey. The honey industry has put safeguards in place over the years to minimize the chances that a product labeled as honey will be adulterated with sugar or syrup.
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