Surveillance and enforcement actions by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) prevented nearly 12,800 kg of adulterated honey, valued at close to $77,000, from entering the Canadian market, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food recently announced in releasing results of targeted testing by CFIA.

Under Canadian law, honey is a standardized product and cannot contain added sugars; otherwise it is considered adulterated and is not allowed to be sold as authentic honey in Canada.

Targeted testing by CFIA in 2018 found that 78% of the 240 samples, collected from across Canada, were authentic honey, including 100% of Canadian honey sampled. The remaining samples found the presence of added sugars.

The findings are not necessarily representative of the amount of honey adulteration in the marketplace overall, because the sampling was targeted to focus on risk areas (for example, establishments with a history of non-compliance, gaps in preventative controls, or unusual trading patterns).

“Consumers expect their honey to be 100% honey. Intentionally adding sugars to honey is food fraud and is intended to increase the amount of honey by diluting it," said Bibeau. "We need to protect Canadians from deceptive food practices and ensure industry complies with regulatory requirements.”

Testing honey for authenticity helps protect consumers from deception and supports a fair marketplace for all. Regular testing of honey by CFIA looks for the presence of sugar cane and corn syrup, while this testing also included looking for rice syrup and beet sugar syrup in honey using a new scientific testing method.

“Adulterated or fraudulent honey is a major problem, not only for Canadian beekeepers but for honest beekeepers world-wide. It not only means consumers are not getting what they pay for, it drives the prices down for legitimate honey producers, and this has had a serious impact on the finances of many Canadian commercial beekeepers,” said Rod Scarlett, Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council.

CFIA tested for sugar cane and corn syrup (known as C4 sugars) using Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis. Testing for added sugars such as rice syrup and beet sugar syrup (known as C3 sugars) was conducted by an accredited laboratory using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technique

In 2017, Canada produced 92 million pounds of honey, worth $188 million, while imports were worth $41 million.

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