The Dark World Of Honey Laundering

cheng3 As domestic bee colonies collapse in droves, the United States is being flooded with cheap, perhaps dangerous, Chinese honey in “the largest case of food fraud in history.” The Globe and Mail reports:

As crime sagas go, a scheme rigged by a sophisticated cartel of global traders has all the right blockbuster elements: clandestine movements of illegal substances through a network of co-operatives in Asia, a German conglomerate, jet-setting executives, doctored laboratory reports, high-profile takedowns and fearful turncoats.

What makes this worldwide drama unusual, other than being regarded as part of the largest food fraud in U.S. history, is the fact that honey, nature’s benign golden sweetener, is the lucrative contraband.

What consumers don’t know is that honey doesn’t usually come straight – or pure – from the hive. Giant steel drums of honey bound for grocery store shelves and the food processors that crank out your cereal are in constant flow through the global market. Most honey comes from China, where beekeepers are notorious for keeping their bees healthy with antibiotics banned in North America because they seep into honey and contaminate it; packers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor quality product by mixing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.

None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chinese honey sold in North America is more likely to be stamped as Indonesian, Malaysian or Taiwanese, due to a growing multimillion dollar laundering system designed to keep the endless supply of cheap and often contaminated Chinese honey moving into the U.S., where tariffs have been implemented to staunch the flow and protect its own struggling industry.

Industry insiders began tracking the questionable cargo years ago when low-priced honey from surprising countries infiltrated the market. But federal law enforcement officials have only begun to home in.

Savvy honey handlers use a network of Asian countries to “wash” Chinese-origin product – with new packaging and false documents – before shipping it to the U.S. for consumption in various forms.

Fifteen people and six companies spanning from Asia to Germany and the U.S. were recently indicted in Chicago and Seattle for their roles in an $80-million gambit still playing out in the courts. That case has been billed as the largest food fraud in U.S. history. But American beekeepers, already suffering from a bee death epidemic that is killing off a third of their colonies a year, say the flow of suspect imports has not let up.

At stake is more than just a sweet industry. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating millions of acres of agricultural crops, including fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and legumes, worth $20-billion annually in the U.S. alone. More than a quarter of the human diet hinges on those crops.

“If we lose our honey industry in the U.S., there’s going to be massive food shortages like we haven’t seen before,” said Richard Adee, a South Dakota beekeeper who owns 80,000 honeybee colonies, the largest operation in the U.S.

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  • StZed

    well i ‘m already only eating organic canadian raw honey (sometimes buckwheat or apple blossom)- so i will continue to do so.

    • Guest

      The trouble is, are you sure? Canada is a gateway country for Chinese imports and people, and once it hits Canada, they can relabel it as Canadian.

    • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

      What exactly are you eating that includes Honey?

  • StZed

    well i ‘m already only eating organic canadian raw honey (sometimes buckwheat or apple blossom)- so i will continue to do so.

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  • Danielskipp

    Bees are messed up by our insane electrical system but the Bee CCD is mainly caused by pesticides. Simple. The stupid ignorant crazy greedy farmers are poisoning everything.

    What are YOU going to do about it?

    • Anonymous

      Buying locally produced organic honey is a good start

      • Joethebeeguy

        No such thing as “organic” honey. Bees go where they will, irregardless of what a flower may or may not have been sprayed with. Look for “RAW” honey, i.e., not pasteurized. As a beekeeper, I drain it and strain it. That’s as close to natural as I can get it.

      • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

        Buying an Ak-47 and taking some basic shooting courses is an even better start.

    • Guest

      While that may be true (electrical interference and the fact we use all sorts of nasty pesticides and herbicides that are systemic), the CCD is thought to be a combination of a fungus and a virus working together. There’s ample evidence suggesting that either are less deadly, but together, they are causing the trouble. My solution, since you asked, is to buy local honey from a farm that produces small scale, organic food. I use this for the basis of my meads, and any honey I ingest. The real issue is that we are litereally paying China to kill us in so many ways. How long can we let this happen? At which point will people realize that “lowest cost” usually means “at any price.” “So what if hundreds/thousands of people get sick and die,” say the CEO’s of SuperHyperGlobalMegaCom stores… “they are going to die anyway… We need to make a PROFIT!” Wake up.

  • Danielskipp

    Bees are messed up by our insane electrical system but the Bee CCD is mainly caused by pesticides. Simple. The stupid ignorant crazy greedy farmers are poisoning everything.

    What are YOU going to do about it?

  • Jlpage89

    I first heard about this a few years back when I read the book “Fruitless Fall” by Rowan Jacobsen. I highly reccomend this book!

  • Jlpage89

    I first heard about this a few years back when I read the book “Fruitless Fall” by Rowan Jacobsen. I highly reccomend this book!

  • Anonymous

    Buying locally produced organic honey is a good start

  • WhiteRose

    China is really starting to piss me off, why do we keep letting them kill our kids, cats, building materials blah blah blah… Least North Korea they make fakes that are better than the real thing! Hell they make fake US $100 super bills and viagra that are better that the original, China pay attention!

    • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

      How do we deal with it is the concern. Do we introduce tariffs that will inflate prices and punish the poorest quarter of our population? China calls for our debt to be paid.

      Do we stop importing Chinese goods? China calls for our debt to be paid.

      This is going to be some ginger diplomacy to put off the inevitable war when China wants their money, and America says “We don’t have it.”

  • WhiteRose

    China is really starting to piss me off, why do we keep letting them kill our kids, cats, building materials blah blah blah… Least North Korea they make fakes that are better than the real thing! Hell they make fake US $100 super bills and viagra that are better that the original, China pay attention!

  • Guest

    The trouble is, are you sure? Canada is a gateway country for Chinese imports and people, and once it hits Canada, they can relabel it as Canadian.

  • Guest

    While that may be true (electrical interference and the fact we use all sorts of nasty pesticides and herbicides that are systemic), the CCD is thought to be a combination of a fungus and a virus working together. There’s ample evidence suggesting that either are less deadly, but together, they are causing the trouble. My solution, since you asked, is to buy local honey from a farm that produces small scale, organic food. I use this for the basis of my meads, and any honey I ingest. The real issue is that we are litereally paying China to kill us in so many ways. How long can we let this happen? At which point will people realize that “lowest cost” usually means “at any price.” “So what if hundreds/thousands of people get sick and die,” say the CEO’s of SuperHyperGlobalMegaCom stores… “they are going to die anyway… We need to make a PROFIT!” Wake up.

  • Joethebeeguy

    No such thing as “organic” honey. Bees go where they will, irregardless of what a flower may or may not have been sprayed with. Look for “RAW” honey, i.e., not pasteurized. As a beekeeper, I drain it and strain it. That’s as close to natural as I can get it.

  • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

    Buying an Ak-47 and taking some basic shooting courses is an even better start.

  • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

    How do we deal with it is the concern. Do we introduce tariffs that will inflate prices and punish the poorest quarter of our population? China calls for our debt to be paid.

    Do we stop importing Chinese goods? China calls for our debt to be paid.

    This is going to be some ginger diplomacy to put off the inevitable war when China wants their money, and America says “We don’t have it.”

  • Liberal Atheist Combat Veteran

    What exactly are you eating that includes Honey?

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