At least 10 brands of UK honey have been found diluted with cheap sugar syrup, according to an extensive study by the European Commission. The Europe-wide study looked at honey imported into EU countries, and tested the imported samples for impurities.
Ten brands from the UK were tested, and the results showed that all of them had been diluted with “illicit, cheap ingredients”. The brands in the study were not named, but it is highly likely that all of them are available in UK shelves, which has prompted the government to investigate the research, according to a national newspaper.
According to the EU Honey Directive, it is required that the product does not “have added to it any food ingredient, including food additives, nor shall any other additions be made other than honey”. The commission conducting the study said the British brands tested were “likely the result of honey produced in other countries and further blended in the UK”.
Taking part in the study were 16 EU member states and Norway and Switzerland, and the results show that 46 percent of the tested products had sugar added, with UK’s biggest supplier, China, having the highest number of contaminated brands. However, the highest proportion of brands diluted was Turkey, with 93 percent of products tested showing signs of added sugar.
320 different honey consignments were tested, imported into the participating countries from 20 countries, and sampled between November 2021 and February 2022. The samples were sent to a lab for analysis, which found that 147 of the samples were modified and therefore not compliant with the EU Honey Directive’s general provision.
Diane Drinkwater, chair of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), said: “To meet demand, around 90% of the honey we eat in the UK is imported. There is legitimate concern among UK beekeepers and honey producers about honey imports from countries where honey may be adulterated on an industrial scale.
“BBKA are keen for the public to be given accurate information about where their honey comes from. BBKA would like all countries where the honey originated from to be listed on the label. The general public knows where our broccoli and cabbage comes from, often down to the county, so why shouldn’t they know where the supermarket honey comes from?”
The BBKA has launched a petition calling for a law to force honey labels to “reflect all countries of origin on the honey”. The petition has gathered over 12,000 signatures as of March 28, and closes on April 13.
The government has responded to the petition, saying: “The Government takes food fraud seriously and is working to ensure honey meets our high standards. Country of origin labelling is not a suitable means for determining if a food is subject to fraud.”