Brussels, Belgium | AFP | Thursday
Around half of the honey imported into the European Union has been tampered with — watered down or laced with cheap sugar syrup — according to an official study published Thursday.
EU health and scientific agencies and the OLAF anti-fraud office worked together on the report, which confirmed the suspicions of consumer groups and Europe’s homegrown beekeepers.
Europe imports around 40 percent of the honey it consumes, and has the world’s second sweetest tooth for the sticky breakfast staple after the United States.
But, when OLAF tested 320 samples from shipments into the bloc, it found that 46 percent of them appeared not to be fully made of honey at all.
Three-quarters of the time, “honey” from China isn’t what it claims to be, and 14 out of 15 batches from Turkey failed the EU’s tests.
Honey from former EU member Britain is even more suspect — all ten batches fell foul of the inspectors — although perhaps because it is mixed with imports from Mexico, Ukraine and Brazil.
“It is important that we remain vigilant against any abuse,” said OLAF director general Ville Itala.
“The most frequent type of fraud with honey happens via adulteration, meaning by adding cheap ingredients instead of keeping the honey pure.
“But we also found instances of origin fraud, with labels claiming false origins of the product.”
EU experts don’t believe that the honey presents a danger to human health, but the cheap contents present unfair competition to farmers who follow the purity rules.
Consumer association Foodwatch was more alarmed by the study, arguing that the fact that so much adulterated honey slipped through the net showed the weakness in official testing.
“European consumers have been shopping for fraudulent honey in supermarkets for years without knowing about it,” said Ingrid Kragl of Foodwatch.
“National control services, but also private laboratories, have failed to detect the fraud because their means are insufficient.”
© Agence France-Presse