Tainted Chinese Honey Pervades US Stores

Tainted Chinese Honey Pervades US Stores

By Helena Zhu
Epoch Times Staff Created: Aug 22, 2011 Last
Updated:
Aug 22, 2011

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TAINTED: Despite crackdowns on major honey smugglers over
the past two years, tainted Chinese honey continues to enter the United States
in record amounts via other Asian countries. (Cat Rooney/The Epoch Times)
Tainted Products from China

Millions of pounds of hazardous honey are being smuggled in large quantities
from China to the United States, constituting as much as a third or more of the
honey on American shelves, a recent investigation found.

The in-depth article published
in Food Safety News on Aug. 15 shows through government shipping tallies,
customs documents, and interviews with North America’s top honey importers and
brokers, that major U.S. packers have been
purchasing record amounts of Chinese honey potentially contaminated with
antibiotics and heavy metals.

This is despite assurances from the Food
and Drug Administration that the honey reaching Americans is safe and authentic,
and follows a widespread crackdown on major smugglers over the past two
years.

After the Commerce Department imposed high tariffs—as much as
$1.20 per pound—on honey from China in 2001, honey peddlers there began shipping
their goods through Asian countries such as India and Vietnam, to obfuscate the
real origin.

Thus, while the United States seemingly gets 123 million
pounds of its imported honey from Asian countries, which includes 45 million
pounds from India, much of it in fact comes solely from China.

“This
should be a red flag to FDA and the federal investigators,” Richard Adee, ex-president of the American
Honey Producers Association, told the trade
publication. “India doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity—enough
bees—to produce 45 million pounds of honey. It has to come from China.” The
article presents hard proof of that inference.

For example, 16 shipments
containing more than 688,000 pounds of honey went from the Chinese port of
Nansha to the Indian honey manufacturer Little Bee Honey during the last month.
Six shipments of the same honey went from Little Bee Honey to the port of Los
Angeles a week before the report was published, according to Import Genius,
which documents U.S. customs records, as cited by Food Safety News.

About
23 percent of the honey from China contains lead, and at least two harmful
antibiotics, according to findings from the Indian Export Inspection Council
earlier this year.

To expedite their production process, Chinese beekeepers use Indian-made animal
antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, a substance that is banned in food by
the FDA for its carcinogenicity and DNA damage to children.

Once the
buyers collect their honey, they store it in unlined, small, and lead-soldered
drums before handing it off to brokers. The honey, now contaminated with lead,
is then processed. Lead affects “almost every organ and system” in the human
body and can lead to death in high doses, according to the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention.

To avoid any attention from consumers and criminal investigators, some unscrupulous Chinese
honey pirates pump the stuff through a network of high-temperature,
high-pressure ceramic filters to remove or hide all indicators of added
sweeteners or contaminants.

This renders it entirely barren of pollens or other
trace elements that could be used to ascertain its origin. “But it’s not honey
anymore. There’s no color. There’s no flavor. There’s nothing,” Elise Gagnon, a
major honey supplier, told Food Safety News.

Once blended with real
Indian honey on its way to the United States, the final product appears just
like its American counterpart on the grocery shelves. It’s cheaper, but half of
it is not honey at all.

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