“Illegal” Honey Back in the News

Feds seize $2 million of illegal Chinese honey – (source: Modern Farmer) Seems that the Feds are still on the trail of a metric crapton of illegal honey flowing into the country. See way back in 2001 the Chinese decided to start flooding the American market with cheap honey. The undercutting of American honey growers would lead to a real crisis in the States. Not only would we lose a domestic agricultural product, but we’d also lose a main source of income for the bee keepers who help pollinate an amazingly large percentage of American crops. It’s estimated that at some point most of the major American bee colonies end up in California to pollinate the majority (80%ish) of the world’s almonds! What’s the government to do? Slap a tariff on the Chinese imports to pull the price back up and over American honey. We do this all over the place sometimes good and sometimes bad (looking at you Big Sugar in Florida) Then of course there’s the other reason – Chinese food controls are terrible. Remember the dog food scares? The poisoned milk, etc. We know already that Chinese honey production uses antibiotics we don’t approve for consumption. There have been batches from both China and India with heavy metals found in them. Most nefariously is the proliferation of “honey sauces” (aka a blend of honey and high fructose corn syrup) sold as honey. So why am I, a brewer, rambling on about agricultural stuff? Because it’s not just honey that this sort of stuff is going to happen with. China is a huge beer market with a growing barley industry – how long before we start seeing Chinese barley? I cannot stress the importance of knowing the origin of your ingredients and buying from reputable sources.