We are in the midst of the Minnesota State Fair which is usually an opportunity to see cute barn yard animals and eat strange things like deep fried mashed potatoes on a stick. But this year, Minnesota beekeepers teamed up with Senator Amy Klobuchar to bring attention to the dangers of honey laundering...you read that correctly: honey laundering.
The complaint appears to be specifically with China. The accusation is that China tries to avoid playing high import tariffs by rerouting Chinese honey through countries that have lower duties.
Senator Klobuchar used the example that if the tariff on honey from China is $1.20 per pound, but only 2 cents per pound if that same honey is labeled as a product from Argentina, China might try to sell their honey through Argentina to the United States.
She said one tell-tale sign is when nations with no history of exporting honey begin to ship huge quantities to the United States. Currently, there is no purity standard with honey set by the US Food and Drug Administration.
You may be wondering why this would be a big deal. Well, there could be substances in the honey that could be harmful. Recently, the FDA seized 64 drums of Chinese honey in Philadelphia that contained residues of Chloramphenicol, a bee anti-biotic used in China but not approved for use in the United States honey industry. Could Chloramphenical be harmful to humans in the long term? Could it weaken honeybee colonies?
Will this be solved soon? Doubtful, the FDA is overwhelmed checking every other food out there--e coli eggs anyone? So, what can you do? Try to get in touch with local beekeepers and purchase local honey from your state or town. Or go hog wild like we did and keep your own bees.