Friday, March 20, 2015

Purchasing Honey

Surprisingly, buying honey is one of the best examples of the first law of economics: caveat emptor (buyer beware). That is because there is virtually no consumer protection in the USA for purchasers of honey. Under current law, there are no regulations defining honey, raw honey, or organic honey. So, the labels on the jars of honey you buy are meaningless. “Honey” may be anything from the real thing to artificially colored and flavored high fructose corn syrup. “Raw honey” may be anything that is very close to the condition it was in when it left the beehive to honey that has been filtered and heated to near pasteurization temperatures. “Organic honey” may be just about anything from anywhere.

Raw Honey
  1. honey produced without exceeding its maximum beehive temperature (approximately 96 degrees F.). Most experts claim that the honey will not lose any of its benefits and can still be considered raw if it is maintained through production and storage at 118 degrees F or lower.

  2. unfiltered honey. Some producers allow the honey to seep slowly through a coarse strainer before bottling it, just to remove any sizeable debris, which doesn't alter essential properties, but purists say that the best raw honey is totally unfiltered, which means you get little shards of honeycomb and grains of pollen still clearly visible in the jar – a very good indication that you have the real thing.
Labels like “Grade A” and “Grade 1″ and the word “pure” are totally meaningless for assessing honey and should be ignored.

Organic Honey
If you want a glaring example of Orwell Newspeak, then organic honey in the USA is one of the best. Honey is not included in the USDA’s National Organic Standard according to USDA’s National Organic Program. So, there are no criteria for establishing organic status. The USDA states that you can certify any product as organic as long as you comply with existing regulation, but there are no regulations for honey. That means the green USDA organic sticker on honey is misleading, at best.”

USDA does allow honey to be labeled “organic” provided its producer has had its honey certified as organic by one of the 120 or so USDA-accredited certified agents (whose decision is arbitrary and personal); typically this applies to honey imported into the U.S. Although the USDA policy states that a non-U.S. producer’s certifying agent must apply rules as strict as the U.S. Rules, there are no U.S. rules specifically for honey, which is why some people argue it is easier to gain organic status for non-U.S. honey, some of which would not be considered organic by the average consumer. Fact; virtually all “Organic” honey sold in the USA is from foreign countries, which comes in bulk and is repackaged and labeled in the USA. Thus, there is not only any way of knowing anything about its ingredients, it is impossible to ascertain its origins. 

Unfiltered, unheated raw honey is available through the Sitka Food Coop. It is listed in the UNFI catalog as Honey Gardens Raw Honey. Search: Grocery, Apitherapy, Honey Gardens, Raw Honey. A Sitka Food Coop Board Member called Honey Gardens and confirmed that this product is as advertised.

by Dr Ronald E Dick

1 comment:

  1. I never knew that you can't trust the labeling of some products as "organic" - especially if they're from foreign countries. I guess the lesson learned here is: "Know your supplier!"