We want to give our customers and consumers factual information regarding honey filtration and the presence of pollen in honey. A recent news article has given the public misleading information regarding pollen in honey and has criticized the USDA-approved methods of honey filtration. The article leads readers to believe that according to the FDA, the absence of pollen in the honey bottle means it is not honey. This is a fallacy.
Honey is made by bees out of nectar, not pollen. Pollen is a by-product of the honey bees gathering nectar. Pollen clings to the bees during the collection of nectar and is inadvertently transferred to the honey.
In a further deception, the article claims that the commercial honey packers are using a filtering method called ultrafiltration in an attempt to hide the country of origin or hide adulterations with corn syrup and other sweeteners. Burleson’s Honey and the majority of U.S. honey packers do not use ultrafiltration because it causes what is known by the FDA as a “substantial transformation” of the product identity into a sweetener that does not retain the identity of honey. Filtering raw honey using ultrafiltration methods, and calling the end product “honey,” is illegal and unethical. At Burleson’s Honey we use an industry-standard microfiltration system to remove suspended solids. (Honey in … and honey out!)
Microfiltration as described by the USDA:
(a) Filtered. Filtered honey is honey of any type defined in these standards that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles or other materials normally found in suspension have been removed.
The USDA further describes the clarity of Grade A Honey as:
(1) Clear — the honey may contain air bubbles that do not materially affect the appearance of the product and may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not affect the appearance of the product.
Remaining questions answered:
Why is honey filtered? Honey is filtered so it is aesthetically pleasing to the consumer and ensures the honey remains fluid for a longer period of time. Filtering removes bee parts, wax and solids, including the majority of pollen that can hasten crystallization. Crystallization is the number one consumer complaint in regards to honey.
What is the U.S. honey industry standard for filtering? The standard filtering method for North American packers is microfiltration with a permeate pore size of 0.1 to 10 micrometers (μm). It removes particles that are not visible to the naked eye.
Is there an issue with honey being transshipped from China and making its way to the marketplace? Yes. That is why Burleson’s Honey and some other packers, producers, importers and exporters have chosen to participate in the True Source Honey program. We want to be completely transparent in our procurement practices.
Can pollen analysis identify the country of origin? Yes, to an extent of the region, but this should be done in the raw product before varied floral sources of honey are blended together. Burleson’s Honey only purchases raw honey with the presence of pollen. We do not and will not purchase any honey that is absent of pollen. The existence and analysis of pollen in the raw honey is a requirement for the True Source Honey Traceability program (we are a True Source Certified member). An independent, globally recognized food safety auditing firm has authenticated our traceability systems and country of origin claims through the True Source Certification process.
Does ultrafiltering happen in the honey industry? Possibly so. There are questionable practices that occur with some foreign suppliers before the honey reaches the commercial honey packers. Burleson’s Honey would never expose our consumers or customers to potentially altered honey and will never accept raw honey that does not contain pollen for analysis or that may have been subjected to ultrafiltration.
Is there a way to find out if honey contains corn syrup or other adulterations? Yes. Burleson’s Honey tests every purchase of raw honey for adulteration with sweeteners that are not present in pure natural honey.
Can I be sure that Burleson’s Honey is unadulterated honey? Yes. Our company has been family owned and operated for since 1907. We value every one of our customers and would not risk the safety of our consumers, or our own families. We eat our products, too.
At Burleson’s we welcome questions from our business customers and retail consumers and will gladly take the time to answer your questions.
Please contact Michelle Poulk, Quality Assurance Manager.