Honey Laundering? Who Knew?!

Today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the most fascinating article on ‘honey laundering’, the art of importing low-grade honey, often chockfull of pesticides or antibiotics. According to the article, many honey importers are actively funneling the questionable honey into the US market due to an increase in demand from to dying honeybee hives and stricter FDA regulations. Much of the imported honey is contaminated with antibiotics already banned in the United States – yet still makes it to your supermarket because of a lack in Customs and Immigrations enforcement.

“We have continuing safety concerns that center on harmful materials being present in some imported honey. It’s not something that can be ignored by FDA,” said Martin Stutsman, a senior FDA food-safety officer and the agency’s top cop when it comes to adulterated food.

“The consumer is cheated and the honest manufacturer trying to sell quality products is undercut and has a hard time competing,” he said.

With an estimated 237 million pounds of raw honey imported into the United States last year, you’d think preventing contamination of the general public would be top concern. But think again! According to a US-Canada border customs official, honey is certainly not a main concern.

“Honey is not only not near the top of the list of priorities,” [an unidentified Customs officer] said, “it’s just not on the damn list.”

If they’re not watching the honey, surely they’re keeping tabs on the melamine, right?

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