A report published by the EU revealed that nearly half of the honey imported by European countries did not have the characteristics of natural honey, and that the product was manipulated by methods such as dilution and adding cheap sugar syrup.
The report, prepared in cooperation with health and science organizations affiliated to the EU Commission and OLAF, the EU anti-corruption organization, confirmed the accuracy of the doubts that consumer associations and local honey producers have expressed for years.
Tests on samples from 320 shipments imported into the EU showed that 46 percent of the samples were not real honey. According to EU regulations, honey must not contain any additives or diluents and must be completely natural.
14 out of 15 samples are fraudulent in Turkish honey
Imports from China, Turkey and England received the worst grades for honey. It was determined that 74 out of 89 samples in honey imported from China and 14 out of 15 samples imported from Turkey did not have the characteristics of honey.
Honey imported from the former EU country England also got bad marks. Of the 10 parties from the UK that were examined, 10 failed by EU standards. It is thought that the presence of honey mixtures imported from Mexico, Brazil and Ukraine in the honey from the UK may also be effective in the result.
According to the data of the Eastern Black Sea Exporters' Association, 45 million 984 thousand 609 dollars worth of honey was exported from Turkey to 59 countries last year. The USA, Spain and Germany were the countries with the highest exports.
Triple increase in fraudulent products in five years
It was reported that the last EU-wide checks were carried out in the period of 2015-2017 and the results obtained today mean a three-fold increase compared to that period. At that time, the rate of products that did not meet the criteria for pure honey remained at 14 percent.
While only four of the 21 honey samples imported by France were genuine honey, half of the 32 samples in Germany were fraudulent.
40% of the honey consumed in EU countries is imported from third countries. The EU is the second largest honey importer in the world, after the USA, with 175 thousand tons of imports per year.
Ville Itala, Director-General of the EU anti-corruption organization OLAF, stated that it is necessary to take precautions against abuses and said, "The most common corruption in honey is the deterioration of its purity, that is, the addition of cheap additives. However, we also encountered cases of counterfeiting in the origin of honey in the tests and wrong origin on the labels. ' he declared.
In the report, it was noted that unnatural honey does not pose a danger to human health, but unfair competition occurs against farmers who comply with the purity rules.
Consumer association Foodwatch, on the other hand, stated that such an intense counterfeiting of the honey sample reveals the weakness of the inspection systems of official institutions.
"European consumers have been buying fraudulent honey in supermarkets for years and are unaware of it," said Ingrid Kragl of Foodwatch. Kragl pointed out that neither national inspection agencies nor private laboratories could detect fraud due to insufficient resources.
"Not easy to detect in laboratories"
Chris Methmann from Foodwatch Germany also demanded tightening of the controls in Germany, saying, "The fraudsters use the loopholes in the food inspection mechanisms shamelessly. Inspectors have come to a position to reveal and remove counterfeits from the market only thanks to modern analysis methods."
Pointing out that fraudulent honey was diluted with corn starch or sugar syrups made from sugar cane in the past, experts say that syrups obtained from rice, wheat or sugar beet are now used instead, and such fraud cannot be detected in the vast majority of laboratories. By adding water and other substances to honey, it is also used to increase the volume.