One in seven pots of honey in Europe could have been “adulterated” with added sugar, a new report has warned.
Tests on 863 samples collected in Europe by the European Commission’s Joint Research found 14% did not conform to the benchmark purity criteria for honey, indicating that foreign sugars “may have been added”.
However, this did not necessarily indicate intentional fraud, stressed Dr Adrian Charlton, head of chemical and biochemical profiling at Fera Science.
Honey can also become adulterated with sugar as a result of bee-keeping practices, specifically the feeding of sugar to bees to keep them alive over the winter, he added. “The test methods used for the report couldn’t differentiate between a carryover from beekeeping practices and deliberate adulteration with sugar,” said Charlton. “I think in most cases the sugar they are detecting is from beekeeping practices. That is a problem, because we say you can’t have non-nectar sugar in honey, but it is not the same as deliberate adulteration.”
Only 1% of samples analysed in the UK had any issues with sugar addition, suggesting it was not a problem in this country, he added.