I like honey, so I tend to notice honey-related stories and it is surprising how much skulduggery there is in the world of honey. Take these comments from the head of a Derbyshire supplier.
"The honey industry is used to launder money, with people buying large quantities and then selling it at a loss. In the past, I've been offered payment of substantial bills with plastic carrier bags full of cash," said Tony.
He said: "There is a lot of cheap foreign product on the shelves, claiming to be honey. One retailer in Derby has a product on the shelves that is so cheap that by the ton it would cost £12,500. For 20 tonnes of unrefined product in a 40ft container the price would be £13,000 so the prices I see on the shelves are a physical and financial impossibility.
I know 70 tonnes of unlabelled synthetic honey is imported into the UK but I've never seen synthetic honey on sale and it can't just vanish into thin air," said Tony.
He has experienced problems with corruption in Italy and Greece and does not deal with either nation. He said: "In Greece, you can pay for official paperwork to certify your honey is whatever you say it is and this is what we're up against.”
It’s obviously a tough business because this same supplier’s name appears in an Australian article on fake Manuka honey. I've bought honey from this guy and suspect he was the victim of yet another honey scam.
In October 2011, Britain's Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) tested a small sample of five brands of manuka honey from shop shelves. Only one, made by Comvita, was up to standard. The other four (from Nelson Honey, Honeyco Rainforest, Littleover Apiaries and Native New Zealand Manuka Honey) showed no detectable "non-peroxide activity", the anti-bacterial properties special to manuka honey.
Of course the issue of chloramphenicol in Chinese honey has been rumbling on for some time and still appears to be a source of concern.
How to detect fake honey? This article dating all the way back to 2007 has some simple tests, including one extraordinary piece of advice.
When poured very slowly honey will flow as a spiral in a clockwise direction. This is because the honey molecule is non-symmetrical with a right-hand bias which causes the stream of honey to spin.
Complete nonsense of course.
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