The big business of honey laundering

There’s about a ⅓ chance the honey on your shelf isn’t real.

September 30, 2020

Turns out, honey is quite the honey pot for fraudsters.

An estimated ⅓ of store-bought honey — mostly the cheaper stuff — isn’t honey at all (or it’s adulterated). And the problem is so prevalent that honey is the 3rd-most counterfeited food item after milk and olive oil.

Honey, I… drank adulterated syrup

Honey laundering goes back to the 1970s, when amateur chemists started altering high-fructose corn syrups to make them look more honeylike. 

When those fakes became easy to spot, scammers started diluting small amounts of real honey in cheap syrups.

The con only caught up to them in 2013. That year, the US government filed a $180m lawsuit claiming that 2 importers, Honey Solutions and Groeb Farms, were lying about the origins of their honey. 

But scammers weren’t exactly scared straight. And while the industry has developed more sophisticated tests that can catch most honey fakers, it’s not clear how many distributors use them.

Fake honey seems safe for consumers

The problem is more serious for beekeepers, though.

Fake honey sometimes goes for less than the cost of just producing the real stuff. There’s not a lot of room for them to compete. 

According to Business Insider, some beekeepers have just stopped producing honey altogether — which is only making the fake honey problem worse.

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