Honey Packers Fail to Report Tainted Imports

Companies often simply send honey back to importer
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 2:25 PM CST
Honey Packers Fail to Report Tainted Imports
Honey drips from a bee as the honeycomb is lifted out of the beehive. Two-thirds of the honey consumed in the US is foreign, of which half is from China.   (AP Photo)

US honey packers often don’t tell authorities about imports contaminated with banned antibiotics or other chemicals, and instead simply send the products back, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports after a lengthy investigation. Importers can then get the tainted honey into the American market through another packer, as two Chicago businessmen did before being arrested last year. “To find it and not report it is criminal,” one beekeeper says.

One of the country’s biggest honey packers insists it has no obligation to report contamination to the Food and Drug Administration, since the tainted product—frequently from China—is the importer’s property. But the FDA disagrees. “It is in the interest of the honey industry to assure that adulterated honey doesn’t get into the marketplace,” an official says, especially since some people are hypersensitive to the illegal antibiotics. (More honey stories.)

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