Manuka honey is unique, it is the only honey I’ve seen with a security tag attached. It’s expensive stuff. Last week in my local supermarket there was a jar for £15, I’ve seen it double that in other places. A hefty price tag for honey that doesn’t even taste that nice. Manuka honey is expensive and devious people have been flooding the market with fake Manuka honey.
The Food Standards Agency recently reported that shops in the UK sold over 1800 tons of Manuka honey last year. Surprising given that only 1700 tons of it was exported from New Zealand and Australia. The FSA estimates over 10,000 tons were sold Worldwide. The majority of it fake.
Manuka honey what?
Manuka honey is produced from the the Manuka tree, a native of New Zealand and parts of Australia. Before the 1980s it wasn’t as popular as more delicately flavored honeys. In 1982 Dr. Paul Molan identified the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey. Science confirmed the long traditional of honey being used to treat wounds and infections was based on fact.
Science behind them, Manuka honey producers successfully marketed their product to the health food industry; attracting a high premium. Manuka isn’t unique in having these properties. Honey from Scotland, Wales and other parts of the World all have research replicating the Manuka effect. Good honey is simply good for you.
Yes, people even fake honey.
Manuka isn’t the only type of honey to fall victim to honey fraudsters. Honey is one of the World’s most counterfeited food products. In 2011 the Food Safety News published a study showing that three quarters of honey sold in the USA had all it’s pollen filtered out. This is done so the pollen cannot be used to identify where the honey comes from. You could well be eating honey from countries treating their hives with antibiotics or toxic chemicals banned in Europe and the USA. Honey fraudsters also routinely mix honey with corn syrup to increase its volume.
So how do you avoid buying fake honey? Buying from established specialist retailers is a great way reduce the risk. But, I would strongly suggest buying local honey from your local beekeepers. Local honey is surprisingly easy to find. This time of the year most local associations are running honey shows. You often find beekeepers selling their honey at food fairs and markets. It is slightly more expensive than the honey you see on supermarket shelves but still a lot cheaper than Manuka - why not buy 100% local honey?