Nothing sweeter: New tests differentiate local vs. branded honeys

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — The Vermont Beekeepers Association is working with UVM’s Bee Lab and the Vermont  Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to test honey purity. This study can benefit local beekeepers and also consumers.

The study addresses local labeling and possible adulteration of honey that is being sold in the state. Fred Putnam is on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Beekeepers Association.

“The whole point of the study that we have going on is to try to improve the markets for the sale of Vermont honey and by Vermont honey producers,” Putnam said.

The Bee Lab is testing 10 samples from grocery stores, 10 imported or non-local samples, and 10 directly from Vermont producers.

“Consumers would be in the end more assured that the honey that they are getting is really honey and if it’s local that it really came from Vermont,” Putnam said.

A law that went into effect January 1 prohibits producers from labeling out-of-state food as Vermont made.

“In terms of honey, the colonies that produce the honey have to have been located in Vermont at the time the nectar flow happened when the honey was being produced,” Putnam said.

Although adulteration of honey has impacted the industry for years.

“We are trying to determine the extent to which that might be happening here in Vermont,” Putnam said. “We don’t know if it is an issue, that’s what the purpose of our testing program is.”

Putnam said one of their main concerns is honey bought on store shelves because they aren’t sure what’s in these products. Vermont beekeepers are competing on shelves with honey that’s produced much more cheaply as a result of ingredients being added to the honey-making it less pure.

“Sometimes cheaper is not necessarily better, and you really have to be careful,” Putnam said.

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