Honey MarketBeekeeping is practiced in all EU countries and is characterized by a diversity of production conditions, yields, and beekeeping practices. EU members with the largest honey production (Romania, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Greece, France and Poland) are located mainly in the southern part of the European Union where climatic conditions are more favorable to beekeeping. Despite being the world's second largest honey producer, the EU is a net importer of honey as domestic production only covers around 60% of consumption. The main supplier of honey imported into the EU is China, followed by Ukraine and countries in Latin America.
According to the EU Commission (*1), Honey is in the TOP 10 list of products that are most at risk of food fraud. Codex Alimentarius Commission has set standard for honey in order to protect the health of the consumers and to ensure fair trade practices (*2). The most common practices are the addition of sugars and mislabeled geographical origin.
The EU defines honey as “the natural sweet substance produced by Apis mellifera bees from the nectar of plants […], which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature”.
Honey fraud takes different forms - multi-floral vs single source, dilution with sugar, and syrup addition.
Direct and indirect adulteration of honey
Direct adulteration of honey involves mixing honey directly with industrial sugar syrup. Indirect adulteration of honey involves feeding bees with industrial sugar syrup. In the case of indirect dilution, bees turn industrial sugar syrup into “honey”. This type of honey adulteration is more difficult to detect. This is accomplished by adding sugar syrups to increase the volume or harvesting it ahead of time and then drying it artificially in large "honey factories", to cut on time and costs. In all cases, the final product is far inferior from what consumers think they are buying, as well as from the EU's legal definition of honey.
Syrup Addition to Honey
Recently a new way of adultaration has surfaced - using invert sugar syrup originating from beet, which is C3 plant. By doing this they have been able to overcome known isotopic methods which are not able to detect sugars originating from C3 plants. This is where EIM-IRMS® method differentiates itself as we are able to uncover all of the above mentioned practices.
Detection of added sugars
EIM-IRMS® method can detect addition of various sugar syrups from industrial plants such as sugar beet, corn, wheat, potato, rice, etc during production. EIM-IRMS® is the ONLY method capable to detecting addition of sugar from both C3 and C4 based plants. Detection is done for known and unknown samples by measuring relative ratio of non-exchangeable Hydrogen stable isotopes (D/H)n (δDn) in ethanol previously quantitatively extracted from fermented honey samples. Follow the link to the EIM-IRMS brochure for honey testing EIM-IRMS Honey authenticity testing