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Profits Over Ethics: Lies You’re Being Sold About Pure Honey

By August 4, 2015February 20th, 20197 Comments

Cute, squeezable honey bears in supermarkets all over the world are deceiving you.

Even if their labels say “pure honey”, that’s not necessarily the real truth.

In the U.S. manufacturers are not obligated to disclose just how pure their honey is (or isn’t). They make a lot more money by employing unethical practices that denigrate the quality of honey.

What’s worse? The FDA isn’t taking any real action on improving labeling or testing laws.

Lack of regulation has allowed imported honey from overseas to hit the U.S. supermarket shelves tainted with antibiotics and heavy metals. [source]

Profit-driven motives in combination with loose laws, mean that you must become vigilant about where your honey comes from because the honey that’s widely available is no longer a health food.

Cheap Honey is Contaminated

Truly quality honey is awesome as a holistic sweetener that can even be used as a remedy internally and topically.

However, to increase profitability (and to keep store prices low) many beekeepers feed bees sugar water – usually made from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – making bees susceptible to pesticides from crops where they forage for food.

Bess then carry pesticides into the beehives and pass those toxins on in their honey production. This is one of the main causes of the alarming widespread death of bees.

[Read: Honey Bees Are Suffering and Why You Should Give a Damn]

Who really wants to be buying honey that’s been harvested by unethical beekeepers and imported from unregulated, overseas manufacturers filled with HFCS, pesticides, even antibiotics and heavy metals?  Um, not me!!

Unethical Ultra-Filtering of Honey For Profit

Brands go even further by catering to the consumer perception is that clear honey = pure honey. They claim shoppers like “crystal clear” honey that is “devoid of impurities.”

So in order to sell more units, brands are ultra-filtering out almost all of the pollen by overheating the honey, which renders it void of all nutritive benefits.

In the end our bodies are paying the ultimate price.

Is Pure Honey Really Pure Honey?  No.

According to Food Safety News, tests showed that over 75% of American store-bought pure honey is actually just sugar.

Real honey should contain a significantly high amount of pollen that provides necessary active antibacterial enzymes our bodies to combat toxin build-up, which sugar lacks.

In those same tests, it was also revealed that no pollen was found in any of the honey sold in stores such as Stop & Shop, CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid.

Why Pollen Count in Honey Matters

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources….It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China. [source]

When the pollen count is higher, it means the honey is in its purest form and beneficial to your overall health.

Surprisingly (or not) manufacturers are lacing their honey with more sugar additives such as HFCS — a far cheaper way to create a sweet taste with the use of less real honey per ounce of product.

Even the Government Isn’t Really Enforcing Purity

Though the U.S. government says that all products labeled as “honey” must contain traces of pollen, and there are some general rules, there is no real enforcement of them. So all honey – even if it’s dangerous – is being passed as “pure.”

As of spring of 2014 the FDA cracked down on sugar-crazed honey manufacturers by issuing a rather loose draft guidance of the proper labeling of honey stating additives must be claimed on the label.

farmers-market-local-honeyImportant factors honey labels don’t have to tell you:

  • pollen count
  • if the honey has been ultra-filtered
  • how the bees were cared for
  • what bees were fed (sugar or not)
  • country of origin

Since the U.S. government has no agency within the FDA tasked with testing every single jar (or even lots) of honey, the responsibility becomes an optional choice by the manufacturers to fully disclose important information, but for most it is cost prohibitive to test their honey.

How to Find Truly Pure Honey

A handful of states, such as Florida, California, Wisconsin and North Carolina have taken it upon themselves to engage regulatory agencies to monitor the quality of honey being sold.

In my opinion, the best solution is to buy raw, organic honey – particularly from a local source like farmers markets. Or at the very least from a brand that fully discloses their production methods and pollen counts.

Did these findings change your views on store-bought honey? Will you start buying organic honey for the sake of your health? Tell us in the comments below!


Research Assistant, Kelly Perez. Photo of honey jars by Natalie Maynor.

Kristen Arnett

Author Kristen Arnett

A makeup artist and green beauty educator helping you find the very best safe cosmetics. Teaching pro secrets for enhancing your natural beauty at every age, so you can be empowered to make healthier choices, and radiate confidence every day.

More posts by Kristen Arnett

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Yulia says:


    I always enjoy reading your posts! They are so informative and clear!

    I loved this one as I have been suspecting that fact for a long time already but had no idea how the whole production process actually looked like.

    It was great that you reviled the reason of the bees death. It has been such a hot topic for quite some time but nobody actually mentioned the reasons behind this terrifying fact!

    Great job! Thank you and please, keep us posted! 🙂

  • Ophelia says:

    After watching the documentary called Vanishing Bees I don’t think of honey the same way as I use to. I only buy organic raw honey such as Manuka or wildflower honey. We need to stop this game of lies and deceit. As a beauty blogger I feel that I need to share the truth with all my followers! Thanks so much for posting this!

  • Scott says:

    Great information. As a real (pure) honey producer in NC, it’s gratifying to see the truth. Not only is pure honey healthier, it tastes so much better than mass-produced, heated, and often-times adulterated honey on store shelves.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Hey Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to chime in. I really am happy that you are an ethical producer – and you are sooo right about how much better good honey (like yours) tastes. Where in NC are you?

  • Andrea says:

    This is such great information! I’ve been really trying to incorporate honey into my daily routine. So good to know.
    Thank you.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Oh wonderful to hear that you got some valuable info out of this, Andrea! Thanks for taking the time to comment too. Honey is awesome when it’s ethical. xo Kristen Arnett

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