Image credit: A. Sebastien

Honey Bees as Producers

Genuine pure honey is classified as a natural product produced entirely by bees. However, cheap sweeteners are commonly added to increase product volume.

This practice of adulterating honey (i.e., mixing another substance of an inferior and sometimes harmful quality) grew dramatically after the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup to the market in the 1970s. Honey is now the world’s third most adulterated food, behind olive oil and milk (Moore et al., 2012). The adulteration of honey is a serious economic and regulatory problem. A recent study of 100 commercial honey samples from 19 countries found that that over 27% of the honey were of questionable authenticity (Zhou et al., 2018). Mislabelling of the geographic origin of honey is another fraudulent practice. Manuka honey from New Zealand is renowned for its antibacterial properties. New Zealand produces only ~1,700 tons of manuka honey per year, yet an estimated 10,000 tons of honey labelled as manuka were sold globally in 2013 (The Australian, 2013).

Research questions include:

  • How effective is nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy compared to mass spectrometry (carbon isotopes, trace elements, broad metabolome profiling) at identifying the authenticity and geographic origin of honey?
  • Can we pioneer a certification program across Canada for honey authenticity and point-of-origin to stabilize consumer confidence in honey?

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