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Is your honey for real? DOST scientist shares advice in buying honey |

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Is your honey for real? DOST scientist shares advice in buying honey

Kathleen A. Llemit -
Is your honey for real? DOST scientist shares advice in buying honey
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MANILA, Philippines —  Don't be duped by your favorite honey. If you're the type to drizzle your pancake with a thick serving of honey or sweeten your coffee or tea with it, make sure you are buying real, unadulterated honey. You might not be aware of it but your favorite bottle might be a mix of honey and corn sugar, or worse, only sugar syrup that is passed as real honey. 

Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) scientist Dr. Angel Bautista, in a recent interview with Teleradyo, said that the popular verification tests seen online may have basis. 

"Meron kasing sinasabi sa Internet na water test na kapag ihahalo sa tubig ay peke 'yung honey o di kaya 'pag umaapoy du'n sa posporo, totoo 'yung honey. Meron naman pong basehan 'yun kasi 'yung totoong honey supposedly konti 'yung tubig, konti 'yung moisture content niya so dapat nga aapoy 'yung posporo o kaya'y if authentic 'yung honey, dapat 'di siya hahalo sa tubig," Dr. Bautista explained.  

He cautioned that the best way to know if the honey is real is by buying it straight from the source. 

"Sa ngayon ang advice namin ay talagang humanap ng kakilalang beekeepers para makakasiguro tayo na totoong honey talaga 'yung binibili natin," he stressed. 

The DOST-PNRI published a study in December 11, 2020 that found that almost 80% of local products labeled as honey are adulterated or not pure. 

"Sixty-two (62) out of the 76 (82%) of honey brands that were found to be adulterated were composed of 95% C4 sugar syrup. So, they are not actually adulterated but they are just completely purely sugar syrup," said Dr. Bautista in the study

He added that 12 out of 16 or 75% of local honey brands sold either in groceries or souvenir shops are not entirely honey. Eighty-seven percent (87%) or 64 out of 74 of local honey products sold online are impure. Among the 41 imported honey products found in local stores, none were found to be adulterated.

The US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines a food as adulterated if it constitutes the following: "1) a valuable constituent has been omitted in whole or in part from a food; 2) if any substance has been substituted wholly or in part; 3) if damage or inferiority has been concealed in any manner; and 4) if a substance has been added to a food so as to increase its bulk or weight, reduce its quality or strength, or make it appear to be better or of greater value than it is." 

Dr. Bautista explained that they can test if the honey is real by conducting a stable carbon isotope ratio analysis. Isotopes are elements with the same number of electrons and protons but different number of neutrons. This can give clues on the origin of the substance. 

“The carbon-13 signature is like a fingerprint of honey and common adulterants like sugarcane and corn are completely different from each other. Therefore, we can differentiate one from the other. This unique isotopic signature is what we are using to tell if honey is authentic or fake,” Dr. Bautista explained.

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