The news of major brands selling adulterated honey recently stung the Indian consumers right in the gut. The brands’ claim of the purity of their product through various marketing gimmicks were falsified after recent quality tests revealed otherwise.
Out of the 13 samples tested from major companies by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), 10 samples were found adulterated. While one of the remaining three passed the test partially.
Studied by CSE non-profit organisation, the samples were tested at Centre for Analysis and Learning in Livestock and Food (CALF) located at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Gujarat.
Side effects of adulteration
Geeta Dharmatti, executive committee member of Indian Dietetics Association says that the effect of adulterated honey on health depends on the toxicity of the adulteration.
“In the recent report, it was revealed that sugar syrup or fructose is used which does not have any effect on health. However, the excess sugar adds to the sweetness and loss of medicinal properties of honey,” Geeta says. However, the addition of sugar/fructose and its increased consumption by people for health benefits can give rise to obesity, increased sugar levels for diabetics and other side effects of high sugar consumption,” she adds.
The expert says that it is easy to add sugar for adulteration. “It is like adding sugar to the milk, which is not recommended. But the other types of adulteration may have different effects,” Geeta adds.
According to research, consuming adulterated honey on rats has resulted in obesity, diabetes, increased blood glucose levels and have toxic effects in the long run.
About the golden syrup
However, honey in pure form has multiple health benefits.
Experts say that raw honey, according to Ayurveda, helps a person remain healthy and cure any disease. Apart from its well-known use to reduce excess body fat or treat obesity, honey is power-packed with minerals and vitamins.
“Honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes and minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium,” says Amit Godse, a Pune-based bee conservator and founder of Bee Basket.
Amit says that honey also contains vitamins like B6, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.
“These nutrients help in treating diabetes mellitus, heal wounds and clearing blocked channels in the body,” Amit tells The Better India.
With so many advantages and healing properties, honey is much in demand.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of remaining healthy and boosting people’s immunity systems. The demand of the natural product has increased multifold,” Amit says.
No hack to detect adulteration
However, there is no trick or tip you can try at home to check if the honey you brought is adulterated or not.
“The quality of adulterations is so high that it has become almost impossible to identify if the honey is pure or not. Only the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) test would reveal if the honey is adulterated,” Amit says.
The NMR test is a magnetic resonance system that scans the honey for its spectra. If the scanned spectra are different, it indicates adulteration. “These tests cost Rs 25,000 and become unaffordable for domestic use,” Amit says.
Watch how bees pollinate in the video below.
Experts recommend that it is best to buy honey from a local source. “Look for a local producer or bee farm that harvests honey. Tribals, NGOs and other bee conservators in the city or neighbouring districts are good places to buy. Some people also allow visiting the source where honey is harvested,” Amit says.
Puspendu Sardar from West Bengal is one such individual who is working with tribals of Sunderbans to create livelihood and offer pure honey through brand Bonphool.
“About 72 families in Sondhi defy the threats of falling prey to the Royal Bengal Tiger and harvest honey from the forests. There are no chemicals or preservatives in the honey,” Puspendu adds.
The founder of NGO Sondhi says that they are working closely with the directorate of forest and government of West Bengal to create a sustainable livelihood with this venture.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)