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Thread: Honey Testing

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    Default Honey Testing

    I continue to be amazed at the low prices of some honey at the grocery store. Some of it is "USA" and "American produced."

    But the price is so low at the retail level, I can't imagine what the wholesale price would be...or what price the beekeeper received for this honey.

    I suspect some kind of adulteration, but I'm not really in the mood to go on a witch hunt. Still, my curiosity is piqued. I want a level playing field for my hard work and the price I feel my honey deserves as I stand behind the table at the Farmer's Market to assure the customer this is really "pure" honey.

    You'd be surprised how often I'm asked that question: "Is this pure honey?"

    I'm also asked, "Do you have bees?" I just smile and tell them I do.

    So my question is: is there a process, a test, or some lab that can analyze honey to detect if it is adulterated with HFCS or sucrose? Or can I have my honey tested to demonstrate the purity of my honey?

    Grant
    Jackson, MO http://www.maxhoney.homestead.com
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Auburn, AL USA
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    104

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    The honey you see in the grocery store labeled as USDA grade a or whatever only contains a percentage of usa honey. It is blended with import honey. I believe it can be as low as 10% usa honey and can still be called usa honey. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. There was a big push during the Bush administration about a "truth in labeling" bill. I'm not sure whatever happened to it. I quit keeping up once the market crashed. It's all about educating your consumer. I believe, when given the facts, the consumer will choose real honey every time at least the consumer I'm marketing to anyways.

    Good luck,

    Will

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    owensboro,ky
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    2,240

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    i recently read an article that said in more technical words than i like that HFCS or sucrose could be positively identified, but RICE SUGAR, what one would expect asian honey to be adulterated with, COULD NOT BE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED. bummer.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  4. #4
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    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
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    Default Re: Honey Testing

    I'm dimly recalling something about testing for C4 vs. C3 sugars, the C4's would not normally be present in honey, and would indicate corn syrup or sugar adulteration, even if the bees had processed and stored it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Auburn, AL USA
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    104

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    HMF is present in heated honey and hfcs. I believe it is monitored in EU as a possible detection method of adulterated honey.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Rome NY USA
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    104

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    I agree, people under value there honey products so much sometimes I don't think its worth it. If all of us would stay with a standerd price we would be better off. I tell other keepers I sell one pounders for five bucks two pounders for 10, and 5pounder for twenty and they call me a thief. I don't see anything wrong with makeing a profit for our hard work !! but it s hard to compete with two $ a pound!

  7. #7
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Happy, where is there 100% U.S. produced pure honey at $2/lb. retail?

  8. #8
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    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Honey Testing

    I assume Happy is not talking about Retail... 2 dollars a pound would be pretty nice for bulk honey around here. That one bottle at a time stuff will wear on you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,225

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant View Post
    But the price is so low at the retail level, I can't imagine what the wholesale price would be...or what price the beekeeper received for this honey.
    Grant
    Jackson, MO http://www.maxhoney.homestead.com
    You're right. No one can imagine what the wholesale price is in relation to the shelf price. They may have nothing to do w/ each other. Ever heard of "loss leader"?

    Have you ever kept chickens and sold eggs? The grocery price is less than what it costs you or I to produce them.

    And how about the term "mark up". A 25% mark up isn't the wholesale price plus 25% of the wholesale price. It's the retail price minus 25% to get to the wholesale price.

    Which has little to do w/ adulteration I guess.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  10. #10

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Its all marketing and media hype from increased awareness of ccd. Honeybee issues have been in the spotlight much more than usual lately, along with that comes "honey talk" leading to increased demand, then due to low supply, an inferior product.

    I was in a farmers market a few weeks back and spied a honey setup in the back. They had blueberry honey (that was blue), strawberry honey (that was red) orange honey, (that was orange) you get the picture. I cant remember which variety was honey colored, probably their clover or something, there was a green honey too, can't remember, maybe mint.

    Anyways, after seeing this it just reinforced my resolve to keep my prices high. 7 wholesale and 10 a pound retail, no less, our stuff is a superior product, not a hodgepodge of who knows what from who knows where.

    You've seen the stories about how much honey gets turned away at US ports only to be shipped out to another port and then, with the right grease, it slips through and winds up on that farmers market shelves.

    Florida has legislature pending on honey standards from what I' heard but what do I care and why should you? You know the "true" quality of your product and your competitors quality, and it aint even close. Prooving it is another story but if they are putting paint in counterfit perscriptions being hocked from the east... think about what they can do with honey, common sence, think about it for just a millisecond.

    Bottom line, who cares about testing honey and honey standards, all my customers know what they are getting, a very high grade, as pure as it can be product. I am already sold out at 7 to 10 a pound, educating your customers and holding out is key, go ahead, try to find something better I tell them.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Central Ontario,Canada
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    141

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Maybe if beekeepers stopped casting doubt as to the quality of chain store honey, customers wouldn't ask if it's 'pure honey'. Beekeepers insist on telling customers that their honey is pure, not like that garbage sold in stores. Using fear and deceit as a marketing tool seems pretty pathetic to me.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    I think the only thing that could be more pathetic than that is a peson or company motivated by nothing more than profit and at the expense of the uneducated customer, be it honey or exercise machines. If purchasers would educate themselves instead of counting on hearsay, perhaps this conversation would have never materialized.

    I know what I saw in that farmers market that trades on "locally grown", proof enough for me in that instance and I am sure there are plenty more to follow. Its all about the buck, such a sad state of affairs of late, all the way around, not just honey.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Central Ontario,Canada
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    141

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    People don't educate themselves on their food purchases. Do you know anyone that 'educates themselves' on the loaf of bread, hamburger or can of soup they purchase?
    The only thing the general public knows about honey is what beekeepers tell them. and we tell them that the industry is corrupt with adulterated honey. If the price is low, must be adulterated. If it's foreign honey, must be adulterated. Not based on any facts of course, just used as a tool to sell our own honey.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Instead of telling our honey customers that all the honey on the store shelves is phoney and contaminated sugar syrup, I think we should encourage honey customers to seek out the small time local beekeeper to purchase honey from. That way at least you are improving your chances substantially of getting a quality product.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Honey Testing

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456 View Post
    People don't educate themselves on their food purchases. Do you know anyone that 'educates themselves' on the loaf of bread, hamburger or can of soup they purchase?
    The only thing the general public knows about honey is what beekeepers tell them. and we tell them that the industry is corrupt with adulterated honey. If the price is low, must be adulterated. If it's foreign honey, must be adulterated. Not based on any facts of course, just used as a tool to sell our own honey.
    If you use such statements, especially unfounded as you say they are, you may be in for a law suit. And you bring to the customers mind that your honey and all honey may be adulterated. How are they to tell? Just because you say so? I think you should promote the purity and quality of your own honey and say nothing about other honey, unless asked and then say I don't really know I've wondered that myself.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Middleton, WI, USA
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    2

    Default Re: Honey Testing

    "Economic Motivated Adulteration"
    A low cost syrup is added to the honey (as much as 25%-75%) of the syrup is added to the honey. When dealing with 1000's of pounds of honey this can add up to big dollars for an unscrupulous distributor considering the price of most of these syrups is less then 1/3 the price of pure honey.

    Speaking with a distributor that handles millions of pounds of honey, you can really not taste the difference. Typical syrups added; cane, inverted beet, corn, rice and or tapioca. The syrups have extremely close sugar profiles to honey and are extremely difficult to detect. And no, there is no simple candle test, dissolve test or pour test that will indicate this. It takes very sophisticated analytical testing techniques to identify if honey has been adulterated.

    There are obvious problems with adulteration;
    1. The honest distributor can not compete even at low margins against products that are not pure but are labeled as such
    2. Food companyies that use honey in their products are inadvertently breaking the law as they are not labeling the product as containing these syrups
    3. The consumer does not know what they are ingesting which they have a right to


    The real cure to this problem is for distributors and large food companies to start testing the products they handle. It would be useful for the FDA or USDA to also do spot checking to catch the bad guys (I am not talking about checking the small honey producer that sells their jars of honey at a farmer's market but rather the large distributors that sell to large food companies or other distributors or test the honey at food companies themselves)

    As mentioned above, testing for adulteration was not easy in the past and required very sophisticated equipment and chemists to operate this equipment. Recently Polarmetrics Corp. has just released an instrument that can determine the amount and type of adulteration in honey. This instrument only requires a drop of sample, takes about 5 minutes to produce a result and literally anyone can be taught how to use the instrument in a matter of minutes. From a cost standpoint this instrument is less expensive then most laboratory instruments and does not require a chemist.

    If distributors and large food companies to not start testing for purity then the I am afraid the honey market is doomed to be infiltrated by these adulteration syrups. "These companies are either part of the solution or part of the problem." Claiming ignorance that the product was labeled as pure is not a solution and only encourages the practice.

    While Polarmetrics Corp. was developing the calibration for the instrument it was found that 30% of samples that were thought to be pure honey were not.
    It is important to note that many times honey is distributed in bulk and mixed with others sources of honey (or thought to be pure honey) One batch of adulterated honey can easily contaminate a large amount of honey.

    So what can the local honey producer do to protect their industry? Put pressure on distributors, large food companies and large retail stores to start testing their honey for purity (so they can properly and legally label it correctly) There is also no reason that state or federal organizations can not easily test honey now on a routine basis. Local, state and federal Honey Councils should also lobby for this testing.

    Should anyone want further information please request information from; sales@polarmetrics-corp.com

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