CATCH THE BUZZ
Same Scam, Different Country
Chinese Honey Smuggled Into France
By Alan Harman
Chinese honey smugglers, facing a crackdown in the U.S., are turning their attentions to Europe.
French public service radio station RFI reports honey is shipped from China to Eastern Europe where it is relabeled to say “French origin” and then sent to France.
FPI says a recent study released by the laboratories from the French Centre of Technical Beehiving Studies in Moselle (Cetam) found misleading labels, false country of origin, and additional sugar are plaguing 10% of honey marketed in France.
“The majority of the honey we are worried about is that being sold cheaply and sold in big quantities,” says Cetam director Paul Schweitzer, a pollen specialist. “About 10% of samples sent off for analysis were doubtful.
“These honeys that have undergone adulteration and have a dubious quality are essentially coming from Asia, namely China.”
French National Union of Beekeeping (Unaf) spokesman Henri Clément says this also involves acacia honey from Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
He said specialists are determining the true origin of the product through the traces of pollen in the honey.
Unaf says honey imports are increasing in France because of a fall in local production. It says this is primarily from the use of pesticides that have killed more than 300,000 bee colonies a year.
“In 15 years, the production of honey in France has been halved, mainly because of pesticides, meanwhile the rate of importing has tripled,” Clément says.
PFI says that in 1995, France produced 33,000 tons of honey a year and imported 7,000 tons, but last year it produced only 16,000 tons and imported 26,000 tons.
The radio station says mislabeling of the origin of the product is not the only problem.
Analysts at Cetam say many of the products being sold as honey are made with the addition of sugar syrup.
“Laws limit the quantity of sugar in honey, but this is based on the amount of sucrose found in the product, whereas much of the sugar added to these honeys comes from maltose” Schweitzer says.
Since 2003 it has been illegal for honey to contain more than 5% sucrose, fructose, glucose, sugar cane, or beetroot sugar.
Cetam analyzes 3,000 honey products a year
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