Many Filipinos know that honey is a natural sweetener and that it has healing and nutritional properties. What they don’t know is that there are lots of fake honey brands being sold in the Philippines.
Last month the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) warned the public that 82% of our honey is adulterated. This was based on a study revealed last December 9, 2020, conducted online during the Atomic Energy Week of the DOST-PNRI Conference.
Furthermore, the researchers tested various honey brands using the internal standard stable carbon isotope ratio analysis or Iscira. The nuclear-based test showed 62 adulterated honey products out of 76. According to DOST-PNRI’s Dr. Angel T. Bautista VII, “these products were purely C4 sugar syrup”. Composed of 95% syrups made from sugarcane and corn. Meaning these are artificial “honey” syrups and not adulterated honey.
Even more shocking was that these “honey products” are everywhere, from souvenir shops, supermarkets, groceries, and even online shops.
Unscrupulous companies manufacture honey to boost their income at minimal production costs. Dr. Bautista explained that “12 out of 16 or 75% of local honey brands sold in brick and mortar shops are not pure honey. An overwhelming 87% or 64 out of 74 of faked honey products sold online.” A significant point is that none of the 41 imported honey products marketed in local stores, were adulterated. The DOST-PNRI Research Team was composed of Bautista, Norman Mendoza, and Marco Lao, and retired UP Professor Cleofas Cervancia, also with DOST-PNRI.
The proliferation of fake honey brands in the Philippines is appalling. Dr. Bautista further revealed that “The problem is that people are being fooled. You may be buying honey for its wonderful health benefits, but because of adulteration, you may just be buying pure sugar syrup”. He remarked that “Consuming too much pure sugar syrup can lead to harmful health effects.”
How it Affect the Industry
Obviously, these controversial results can negatively affect the local beekeeping industry. It can drag down the cost of honey to their detriment. Legitimate beekeepers have been complaining about this unrelenting production and trade of counterfeit honey products. “Imagine the lost incomes due to adulteration and fraud that’s supposedly for our honest beekeepers and honey producers. It is affecting our local honey industry so badly that we estimate that they are losing PhP200 million per year,” Dr. Bautista reported.
Pure honey is a natural sweetener that comes from bees. Indeed, it is rich in nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Manufacturers claiming to sell Pure Honey should not add food additives to their products. The Philippine National Standard for Honey requires them to declare any added substance in the label.
Since one of the most commonly faked products is honey, the study confirmed this unpleasant practice using the stable carbon isotope ratio analysis. Dr. Bautista explained that “The carbon-13 signature is like a fingerprint of honey and common adulterants like sugarcane and corn are completely different from each other. Therefore, we can differentiate one from the other. This unique isotopic signature is what we are using to tell if honey is authentic or fake.”
The DOST-PNRI team forwarded the results of their findings to the Food and Drug Administration. “If we release the names of the companies, they may stop for a while. But no one can stop them from faking honey again in the future. If we incorporate these isotope-based standards into our regulatory system and the Philippine National Standards, then we think it will be a long-lasting solution to this problem,” Dr. Bautista stated.
Ways to Test Pure Honey
Now, is there any way of knowing the honey is pure? Without the use of sophisticated devices, you can examine the physical properties of the honey. Start with the label. Where does it come from? Is it a trusted or known brand? Next, read the ingredient list. Check for “added flavors” or other ingredients. It should only list “honey.” It increases the chances that it has no additives or unwanted substances.
Moreover, to help you identify whether honey is pure or adulterated, read these eight different ways to check pure honey at home.
At Honeys.PH, you can enjoy the amazing health benefits of 100% bee-produced honey products. Guaranteed that our products’ quality is with all the goodness of pure, raw, and unadulterated honey from the mountains of Davao City. Walang halo at hindi niluto!