There has been a lot of publicity in the press this week about the adulteration of honey and so it is very reasonable to ask how do I know if my honey is real?

If you have your own hive and bees then unless you accidentally get some feed into the honey you know it is unadulterated, but the shop bought stuff is different. A recent investigation by the European Commission into honey adulteration tested 320 samples and found 147 or 46% were “suspicious”. Ten samples from the UK which had been blended or packaged here failed the test. They all contained imported honey.

The honey business is a strange one. People think they are buying a quality product but also that “honey is honey” and nothing could be farther from the truth.

Last year we imported 38,000 tonnes of honey from China which is known to be a major source of adulteration, but many other countries were found to be guilty as well.

Arturo Carrillo from the international Honey Authenticity Network which is based in Mexico said “If this study does not trigger a broad and serious investigation in the UK like the one in the EU, then either the UK are completely incompetent or they are complicit.” Watch this space!!!!

DEFRA put up a statement which stated “There is no place for adulterated honey which undermines consumer confidence and disadvantages responsible businesses.”  “We will work closely with enforcement authorities to ensure honey sold in the UK is not subject to adulteration, meets our high standards  and maintains a level playing field.” Again watch this space. DEFRA has always been very good at words, less good at actions.

In order to check the situation with regard to honey currently being sold in the UK I have discovered the following: Tesco are selling a 340g jar of clear honey for £0.75 and a 454g for £1.60, Sainsbury are selling a 340g jar of honey for £0.75 and a 454g jar for £1.60, Waitrose a 454g jar for £1.60. It would be wrong of me to suggest that any of these products are anything but pure honey as I have no evidence that they are anything but what they claim to be. My only comment is that as a bee farmer the cheapest I can buy a 340g jar is 49p (excluding VAT). that leaves just 26p for the honey, packing and transportation for a 340g jar of cheap honey from the supermarkets.

If you want to assure yourself of the quality of your honey buy from a trusted supplier. That could be the beekeeper, a local farmers market or a trusted deli or shop.

Remember, with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

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