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Everyone knows that honey comes from bees, right? Well, according to an unsettling study from Food Safety News, it might not be that simple. The study found that the majority of what's being sold as honey has been ultra filtered so that it no longer contains pollen. Without pollen, the FDA does not consider these products to be honey. After all, pollen provides antioxidants and nutrients and is what gives different types of honey distinctive flavors. But more importantly, without pollen, it is impossible to trace where honey comes from and guarantee its purity.
Food Safety News analyzed the pollen counts of honey from supermarkets, drugstores, big box stores and specialty markets in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Shockingly, 100 percent of the honey bought at drugstores contained no pollen, 76 percent of the samples bought at grocery stores had all the pollen removed and 77 percent of honey bought at big box stores like WalMart and Target contained no pollen.
On the positive side, honey from Trader Joe's, farmers' markets, health food stores and co-ops contained full amounts of pollen.
Food Safety News also found imported honey containing both heavy metals and banned antibiotics, all lacking the necessary pollens to determine their place of origin.
The honey producers who spoke to Food Safety News agreed that there's only one reason to filter honey -- to cover up the fact that they are selling an inferior and potentially dangerous product, which may be coming from China. Chinese honey, which is cheaper, has been found to contain chemicals and antibiotics and in 2001, the Federal Trade Commission implemented tariffs to prevent it from being imported into the United States.
If you're shopping for honey at the supermarket, your best bet is to avoid store brands and opt for honey that's labeled organic. It will probably cost more, but you'll be certain that there's actually honey in that bear-shaped jar.