Sat, Sep 14, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Researchers say 75% of Taiwan’s honey not pure
學者檢測 賣場蜂蜜七成五不純

Beekeeper Roman Kuttelwascher holds a honeycomb from a beehive at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague, Czech Republic on Sept. 6. Honey produced by the bees is checked for its quality and presence of pollutants to help the airport collect pollution data about the environment.

Photo: Reuters

Are you consuming real honey or fake honey? After testing a dozen different honeys being sold at supermarkets, hypermarkets and fruit stands, Taiwan Apicultural Society president and National Ilan University Biotechnology and Animal Science Department director Chen Yue-wen found that 75 percent were not real honey. Pollen could not be extracted from six of the honeys and three were a mixture of both fake and real honey. However, all products marked with official certification were up to standard. The Consumers’ Foundation has urged the government to require companies to be honest when listing the content of products.

Pure honey has no additives, Chen says, adding that much of the fake honey on the market is made up of high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and artificial flavoring. Many of the blended and synthetic honeys being sold on the market are actually a combination of pure and fake honey, and may meet the government’s Chinese National Standards (CNS). Chen has come up with a new method for analyzing stable isotopes in integrated biochemical processes, allowing one to accurately differentiate real from fake honey, which he will be presenting at the International Apicultural Congress at the end of the month.

Miaoli District Agricultural Research and Extension Station researchers Sung I-hsin and Wu Heui-hu say that not enough domestic honey is being produced to meet market demand, especially since production was cut in half this year, making it highly difficult to find pure Taiwanese honey at hypermarkets and supermarkets. They say that purchasing it directly from beekeepers would be the best way to get it. Taiwan Beekeepers Association chairman Wu Chao-sheng also says that domestically produced honey with certified labels is only sold at the Matsusei grocery store chain. While in the past there were a lot of fake honeys being sold, now food processing companies are buying pure honey from beekeepers and adding other ingredients, but he says that they should label the contents accurately.


1. dozen n.

一打;十二個 (yi4 da3; shi2 er4 ge5)

例: The average price of a dozen eggs in Taiwan is NT$50.


2. differentiate v.

鑑別;分辨 (jian4 bie2; fen1 bian4)

例: Do you think you could differentiate between the different brands of soda in a blind experiment?


3. obesity n.

肥胖 (fei2 pang4)

例: The main causes of obesity include excessive food intake and lack of physical activity.


After reporters visited supermarkets and hypermarkets such as Pxmart, A.mart, RT-Mart and Carrefour, they found that none of the honey being sold at these stores had certified labels, and that all of the honey on sale, aside from two from Thailand, were from Taiwan. Carrefour and RT-Mart both add high-fructose corn syrup to their own brands of honey, which are marketed as “blended honey,” while A.mart does not label its honey this way. Some companies label their product as longan honey, but when you look on the back you see that it is actually blended honey. Causing much confusion, some companies even place pictures of beekeepers on molasses products.

A.mart says that of their company’s two longan honeys, one is 100 percent pure longan honey, while it is clearly labeled that the other one contains fructose and dextrose.

Tsai Shu-chen, chief of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food division, says that companies selling honey are not legally required to clearly state the contents of the product in product names unless it is being marketed as “pure honey.” But Consumers’ Foundation secretary-general Lei Li-fen says that the FDA requires labeling for milk powder, fruit juice and rice flour to indicate that the contents do not meet official standards by writing flavored milk powder, juice from concentrate or flavored rice flour. The standard should be the same for all products, says Lei.

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