Over 75% of honey sold in U.S. grocery stores is not raw honey. It’s been filtered and/or heated so that it no longer contains much pollen, which is the component that makes honey really honey.
This is worrisome because:
- Without pollen there is no way to determine if the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.
- Buying local unfiltered honey can help promote healthy honey bee populations, which are essential to our food supply.
- Eating pollen via honey may offer some health benefits, and is really the only reason to choose honey over another sweetener.
Which kinds of honey are fake?
In 2011, Food Safety News evaluated more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey from grocery stores in 10 states. They found the following:
Why is honey filtered?
Some honey industry experts claim that honey is filtered to hide the fact that the honey was imported illegally or came from China. Others say it’s to prevent the honey from crystallizing, since Americans prefer their honey to remain liquid. (Pollen/small particle-containing honey will crystallize much faster than filtered honey).
Which kind of honey should I buy?
Honey found at farmer’s markets, co-ops and natural markets like Whole Foods is the most likely to be local and untreated. Any of these words on your honey container’s label are a good sign that you’re buying good honey:
- Unfiltered or untreated
- Locally produced
- True Source Certified
Like you see here:
When possible, avoid buying honey at drugstores (since it’s most likely to have the pollen filtered out) and when shopping for honey at regular grocery stores, choose organic which is more likely to contain the anticipated levels of pollen. No matter where you are, look for the above key words to make sure the honey you’re buying is legitimate and safe.