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A Canadian study of honey has found that nearly 24 per cent of imported products were labelled as pure but actually contained added sugar.

“Honey that has been deliberately adulterated is considered food fraud, which deceives consumers about what they are buying and creates an unfair market for those selling authentic honey,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency wrote in its report.

The CFIA examined 240 honey samples in the summer of 2018. Of those, 19 domestic samples proved authentic. Another 52 of the samples, all of them from imported honey, had been labelled as genuine but in fact contained added sugars.

The CFIA tested the honey samples using two methods: one used to detect sugar cane and corn syrup and one used to detect both previous additives, as well as other sugars like rice syrup.

The samples were chosen based on factors considered to be a risk of failing, such as products from a company with a history of non-compliance and unusual trading patterns. Because the study targeted honey samples for study, the CFIA says the results are not indicative of the current honey market. 

The CFIA notes the foreign honey producers have an added incentive to label their product as pure despite the additives, as artificial honey must pay duty when entering Canada, while pure honey is duty free.

At the start of 2019, the CFIA ramped up inspections of honey and have since confiscated more than 12,500 kilograms of honey valued at $76,758 from popping up on store shelves.

“CFIA has also engaged in discussions with Canadian provinces and territories on activities to prevent and take actions against food fraud, and will continue to do so,” the agency wrote in the report.

The CFIA says it intends to continue to monitor the honey market in Canada and will use the results from this study to improve their future inspections.