Even the Honey Badger cares about food authenticity

It was recently reported in Food Safety News that the majority of “honey” sold in the United States is not technically honey, because it’s been ultra-filtered to remove all of the pollen. Maybe the honey badger doesn’t really care, but consumers should. Pollen is an essential constituent of authentic honey, and is not effectively removed by ordinary filtering processes. Only by ultra-filtering the product can it be rendered pollen-free. Ultra-filtered honey is to be considered suspect, because in addition to its reputed health benefits pollen provides the traditional basis for tracing honey’s geographic origins. If the pollen’s been removed, then someone is attempting to conceal where the honey really came from.

Pollen analysis is the customary method, but perhaps not the only viable way to ascertain food origin for honey. None other than our own Jack Cochran, while at LECO, co-authored a paper (J Sep Sci) showing the use of GCxGC-TOFMS to characterize volatiles in honey, with findings that illustrate distinct profiles for honey originating from different parts of Europe. The widespread practice of ultra-filtration making traditional authentication methods ineffective, work such as this is vital for assurance of food origin traceability.

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