Be aware: Do you know what is in that cheap jar of honey?

British beekeepers are calling for stricter labeling of supermarket ingredients to identify countries of origin of imported honey; Because Chinese honey can be one-sixth the price of honey produced in the UK.

British beekeepers are demanding that supermarkets and other retailers label cheap honey imported from China and other countries as the country of origin, as it is claimed that part of the global supply of such honey is supplied with sugar syrup.

Britain is the largest importer of Chinese honey in the world. Chinese honey can be one-sixth the price of honey produced by British bees. Chinese honey with a supermarket label can be purchased for 69 69 per jar. Supermarkets say that each jar of honey is “100% pure” and that the beekeeper producing each jar of honey can be tracked, but there is no requirement to identify countries of origin of mixed honey from more than one country. The European Union is currently considering new rules to improve consumer information for honey and ensure that the country of origin is identified on the jar.

Lynn Ingram, head of Honey Authenticity UK (a group of beekeepers campaigning for better information for buyers), said the government should enforce its new strict rules to ensure better transparency.

“Consumers need to be able to make informed choices about what they are buying, and this is currently impossible for them,” said Ingram, who is also the main beekeeper at Wesley Cottage Bees near Bridgewater in Somerset. “Current labeling laws hide what people eat.”

The sale of honey reached a record high last year and in recent years has surpassed jam and its use has become very popular in the UK. Consumers bought 30,000 tonnes of honey worth میلیون 130m in 2020, according to company data and Kantar Research.

About a third of British honey is imported from China, but it is almost never mentioned on the supermarket glass label as the country of origin. Britain also imports significant amounts of cheap honey from India, Ukraine and Vietnam.

Chinese honey dominates the world market but is controversial; This is because beekeepers in other countries say that laboratory tests show that some of the honey supplied to the world has been targeted by swindlers, who dilute it with cheaper sugar syrup.

In China, officials have been warned of the threat. “In order to make more profit, high-quality honey can be cheated by adding cheaper sweeteners,” the Beijing Beekeeping Research Institute said in a research paper in March last year. Factories in China are promoting a type of sugar syrup for sale to mix with honey. It is claimed that this strip can defeat the most common tests used by food safety monitors.

In the United States, legal action has been taken over allegations that imports of cheap counterfeit honey are leading beekeepers into financial collapse.

Last year, Mitchell Weinberg, New York-based food fraud inspector at QSI, commissioned a leading German lab to test nine bottles of its supermarket honey in Britain. Eight of the nine samples tested showed fraud, but Food Standards Agency (FSA) He says more work is needed to ensure that such experiments can be trusted.

Dale Gibson, one of the founders of Bermondsey Street Bees in London, which has beehives in and around the capital, including Lambeth Palace and rooftops near Tower Hill, said FSA And commercial standards officers need to take more effective action against the threat of this food.

Xian Edmonds, a partner at Burges Salmon Law Firm, which provides oversight advice on the food supply chain, said any new changes to European food labeling rules would not be automatically applied in the UK as the country had to introduce its own rules. .

Any action to improve transparency in the food chain is welcome, but should be evaluated in consultation with food companies as to how easily it can be implemented. “Anything that improves the authenticity and traceability of food should be a good thing, but you have to balance it with practicality,” he added. “Because the industry may argue that a new labeling law may be difficult for mixed honeys from several different countries.”

Rick Mumford, head of science, evidence and research at the FSA, said the Food and Drug Administration is working with other government agencies and industry experts to address some of the intricacies of honey authentication testing. He said: Our job is to create the most effective executive tools and tips for diagnosing natural honey so that consumers can buy honey with ease.

A government spokesman said consumer confidence in the food they ate was essential and that food labeling should be accurate and not misleading in any way. We work with our partners to understand emerging scientific evidence about honey testing to ensure that all honeys can be tested fairly and accurately for their contents and origin.


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