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2788Honey adulterants

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  • Joe Franke
    Jul 4, 2013
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      Honey adulterants This issue might be straying a bit from bee monitoring per se, but it’s still within the realm of apiculture and the social issues surrounding beekeeping...so please bear with me.

      As some of you know, I’ve been working on a project in Belize to revive traditional meliponiculture there, and in the course of doing surveys I had the opportunity to buy a great deal of honey to spray around. I found the quality of the honey purchased at local, mostly Chinese-run groceries, to be absolutely horrific. A lot of it was bottled rather crudely, with very homey-looking labels indicating family run honey operations, but I think a lot of this stuff is sold bulk wholesale and bottled on the spot. The stuff looked and tasted odd, being very runny and only vaguely sweet, but I really became concerned after finding that meliponine bees were not attracted to it. There’s been a lot in the news lately about adulterated honey in the world market, mostly mixed with sugar, corn syrup etc. and some vague references to “other substances”. In this case,  I suspect that one of the adulterants was propylene glycol or something like it. The Chinese produce immense amounts of propylene glycol as a food additive (I suppose small amounts are not acutely toxic) and as an aviation de-icer, so I would imagine that it’s relatively cheap.

      Do any of you think that this is a conceivable scenario? Any references to honey adulteration practices, news stories, arrest reports, etc. would be much appreciated, as my experiences in Belize and elsewhere have gotten me interested in a bit of muckraking on the issue.

      Overall, I find it ironic that world demand for honey is at an all time high while honeybee populations are simultaneously in steep decline, which is leading to increased reports of adulterating supply.

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