Everything you need to know about fake honey

Raw honey contains a whole host of benefits: from being a source of antioxidants to antibacterial and antifungal properties, nature’s liquid gold not only tastes good, but does you good, too.

However, fake honey contains very little of these properties. And, shockingly, a reported one-third of all honey sold worldwide is fake. Here, we answer a few of the most frequently-asked questions regarding fake honey, and how we can avoid it.

What is fake honey, and how is it produced?

Unlike natural, raw honey which is harvested from honeycombs and only minimally filtered to remove bits of wax and honeycomb debris, most fake honey is produced by mixing a small quantity of real honey with other sugary syrups derived from sugarcane, corn, or rice, and heavily processing the mixture to achieve the clear syrup you would see in lining many supermarket shelves. 

Most importantly, fake or highly processed honey has no pollen in it. There are a few reasons why the pollen is removed, including to prevent crystallisation, and also to hide any traces of where the honey was produced. Pollen acts as a “fingerprint” - it allows scientists to trace where the bees came from, proving the country of origin.

Why does fake honey exist?

Simply put, it’s cheaper to produce. Syrups are easier, quicker, and more convenient to produce compared to the time and labour it takes to produce real honey. A bee produces 1 tablespoon of honey in its lifetime - it’s estimated that a beekeeper will need at least 500 hives in order to be profitable. With that perspective, processing cheaply obtained syrups in a factory would speed up the process considerably while keeping costs low.

What does fake honey look like?

Natural, raw honey comes in a variety of flavours and consistencies, ranging from light and slightly viscous, to thick, opaque, and crystallised. Fake honey, on the other hand, is almost uniformly thin in consistency and completely clear since all pollen is filtered out. Due to the varying consistency of natural honey, it can be difficult to immediately recognize fake honey by sight, but a sniff test sometimes works - fake honey doesn’t have the strong floral bouquet of real honey, and most times has a slightly sour odour.

Is fake honey bad for me?

Unlike the amazing health benefits of raw, natural honey, fake honey contains little to no benefits due to adulteration with sugar syrups, and from the heat-treating and ultra-filtration it goes through to remove pollen and extend shelf life. 

However, while fake honey isn’t immediately bad for your health - it is basically a sugar syrup, and like anything sugary, can contribute to sugar-related health issues in the future. 

How does fake honey impact the beekeeping industry?

Simply put, fake honey is bad for beekeepers, and also bad for bees. With cheap, fake honey flooding the market, beekeepers are struggling to compete price-wise.

Some, unable to drop their prices any lower, have given up completely. Others find it has become more profitable to focus on pollination rather than honey production: they hire their bees out to farmers whose crops flower at different times during the year, allowing the bees to roam and pollinate the surrounding areas. 

However, travelling more means bees put their hives at risk of exposure to new diseases.

How can I tell if my honey is fake?

The internet is flooded with articles on how to tell real honey from fake - however, some scientists have debunked those “tests”. With labs struggling to tell fake and real honey apart, it's hard to believe a simple DIY home test would be able to do the job.

What you can do to ensure your honey is real, is to buy it from a trusted seller with transparent processes. My Naturi’s natural raw honey, for instance, comes from an award-winning Moldovan honey producer, whose honey is produced by its own beekeepers - alongside trusted, village-level beekeepers - which you can read about here

Our premium honey has been analysed by food and pharmaceutical laboratories like Quality Services International GmbH. Our latest results, dated November 2020, show that our honey is unadulterated with any added sugars - something you should always look for in your honey!

Our honey has also won gold, silver, and bronze awards for quality at the London Honey Awards, an annual competition that honours the best natural honey on the market! All competition participants must show their certification before entering their honey - this ensures only the best of the best take home these awards.

For full reports and award certification, click here.

Ready for some all-natural, 100% raw honey? Shop our delicious range of honey here.

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