The Physics Police

The Physics Police

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pollen in Honey

Today I found an ironic article that claims:
More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.
The testing examined samples of honey for the presence of pollen grains.

Absence of pollen in honey is evidence of ultra-filtration (at ~50 microns). This is a common industry practice meant to help prevent crystallization. The pollen grains can seed the formation of sugar (sucrose) crystals.

Another way to prevent crystallization is adulteration with fructose from corn syrup, etc. A small amount of fructose is enough to impede the formation of sucrose crystals.

The FDA standard does not exclude either of these practices. The question is, which do you consider more authentic? Ultra-filtered, or corn syrup adulterated?

The folks at Food Safety News argue that ultra-filtration results in a product that isn't exactly what the bees produce. By that logic, low fat milk isn't exactly what the cows produce, and egg without shit on it isn't exactly what the chicken produces.

In any case, I think you will agree that ultra-filtration is less deceptive than adulteration. This contradicts the claims in the article, that honey without pollen in it isn't real honey.

The way I see it, in order to prevent crystallization, honey with pollen is more likely to have been adulterated using corn syrup than the ultra-filtered honey.

So, really, that pollen you see, under the microscope, in a sample from a jar of gooey, runny honey, implies corn syrup adulteration.

Pollen is reason to suspect it might NOT be 100%, "real" honey.

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