Many health conscious parents purchase honey as an alternative to refined sugar because honey contains certain antioxidants and antimicrobial properties which are not present in table sugar (Honey vs sugar, n.d.). Also, most people find that honey is much more delicious and nutritious added to cold natural (unsweetened) cereals, hot oatmeal, in the banana bread recipe, hot tea, honey cinnamon toast, sweetening the homemade smoothie, and much more.
The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and benefits of honey are found in the pollen; however, a recent report shows that the pollen along with its nutritional benefits have been removed from the honey found on grocery store shelves. The labels on honey sold in grocery stores will not give you this information.
According to the article in Food Safety News, Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey, ultra-filtering removes pollen, hide honey origins (Schneider, 2011) reported that our grocery stores are selling us pollen-less honey without our knowledge. The article explains that “Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years” (Schneider, 2011).
Food Safety News did their own investigation by pulling 60 jars of honey off grocery store shelves from 10 states (and the District of Columbia). They had an investigator of pollen in honey, professor Vaughn Bryant, of Texas A&M University, analyze their honey samples. His findings were shocking:
- 76% of the honey samples at grocery stores had all the pollen removed
- 100% of honey samples at drug stores contained no pollen
- 77% of honey samples at big box, like Wal-mart and Target stores, had the pollen filtered out
- 100% of honey samples bought at small individual portions like Smuckers, McDonalds, and KFC had the pollen removed
- All of the honey samples at farmer’s markets, co-ops, and natural stores, like Trader Joes had the full amount of pollen!
Usually, honey found on grocery store shelves labeled organic will most likely contain the full amount of pollen. Another interesting factor in this article is that the President of the American Honey Producers Association, Mark Jenson, finds no reason why any U.S. honey producer would use the ultra-filtering process because it completely diminishes the quality of the honey product and is a very costly procedure. He explains, “In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law.”
It has been determined that the one and only reason pollen would be removed from honey is to hide where it came from. “No one can say for sure why the FDA has ignored repeated pleas from Congress, beekeepers and the honey industry to develop a U.S. standard for identification for honey” (Schneider, 2011).
Know your farmer, know your bees! Check your local farmers market for honey containing the full amount of pollen. Click here to Search Local Harvest website for Fort Worth, Texas, farmers markets near you. Not in the Fort Worth area? Just place your zip code in the search bar located under the map to find your local farmers.
For a full list of honey brands without pollen, by Food Safety News click here or the article link below.
Stay informed. Eat well. Live well.
Schneider, A. (2011, November 7). Tests show most store honey isn’t honey, ultra-filtering removes pollen, hides honey origins. Food Policy and Law. Food Safety News website.
Honey Vrs Sugar (n.d.). Benefits of honey website.