The Issue

Made from the nectar of flowers, sweet and viscous honey remains a popular sweetener throughout the world.

In North America, growing demand for honey has for some time been fulfilled by both domestic and imported sources. But sustaining quality honey supplies to U.S. customers is increasingly challenging.

Most honey is high quality and is honestly sourced. A few years ago, however, honey was involved in one of the largest food fraud cases. U.S. antidumping duties and quality controls are in place to protect U.S. consumers – and honey companies – from often cheaper and less regulated honey products from abroad. However, some honey brokers and importers illegally circumvent these restrictions, selling honey to U.S. companies that is of questionable origin and quality. This threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey's reputation for quality and safety.

Further, ensuring honey authenticity is one of the greatest challenges facing the honey industry. In recent years, a number of honey testing methods have been developed to detect food fraud but there is no single universal analytical method available which is capable of detecting all types of adulterants in honey with adequate sensitivity.

The result – U.S. companies and beekeepers find it harder to compete. Quality U.S. honey operations are essential not just to produce high-quality honey supplies, but also for the honeybees needed to pollinate dozens of fruit, vegetable and seed crops.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have taken significant steps to thwart illegal trade of honey, including the seizure of honey adulterated with other sugars or syrups as well as honey that was circumvented through third countries to avoid anti-dumping duties. In addition to enforcement and prosecutions at the federal level, many states have passed standards of identity intended to protect the integrity of honey.

To learn more, check out our newsroom which includes government reports and news stories on illegal honey activity over the years.

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