We all know that many fashion items are counterfeited. Watches, purses, jewelry and many more items are being “knocked off” and the prices are just part of the motive. When demand exceeds the supply lawbreakers move in to fill the void.
With growing consumer interest in locally sourced food, local honey producers expect record prices at area farmers’ markets — along with lots of questions about honey quality and authenticity.
From October through January, agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly a half-million pounds of illegally imported Chinese honey valued at $2.45 million. Agents intercepted illegal honey shipments worth $1.4 million in Seattle in 2010. U.S. Department of Justice officials seized 10,000 gallons of counterfeit honey from a warehouse in Salem a few years ago.
U.S. Customs and Homeland Security investigators are on the lookout for illegal honey imports from Chinese shippers who attempt to elude millions of dollars in U.S. trade tariffs by mislabeling the honey’s country of origin. In addition, Chinese honey can be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals from improper storage or diluted with such ingredients as corn syrup.
The low-priced bogus, counterfeit and illegal honey (terms all used by industry experts) gets into the American food system and is very hard to trace. In late March, inspectors intercepted 300 55-gallon drums of “contaminated” Chinese honey at the Port of Houston. It went to a landfill for disposal.
Four years ago, the European Union banned honey imports. That has created more pressure to get illegal honey into the United States, industry experts say. Large U.S. packers buy honey from around the world — China, Australia and India, as well as Argentina, Brazil and Vietnam, among others nations. In some cases, China has shipped honey to these countries for relabeling and sale in the United States.
Demand is there. Americans eat a lot more honey than domestic beekeepers can produce.
As a result, the price of wholesale honey has steadily increased the past several years from $1.90 per pound in 2012 to this year’s expected price of more than $2.50 per pound, reports the American Honey Producers Association.
To be safe you need to know the source of your honey.
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