In the last few years, fake honey has started to enter the European market. Moreover, a check by the Active Consumers organisation shows that out of 10 honey brands tested, 5 do not meet the quality requirements:
Water content: no more than 20%
Electrical conductivity: no more than 0.8 mS/cm
Hydroxymethylfurfural (C6H6O3) content: not more than 40 mg/kg
Diastase activity: not less than 8 Gote units
Proline content: not less than 180 mg/kg
Methods of honey adulteration
There are two main methods of adulterating honey: diluting it with glucose-fructose syrup or removing it from the hive too early. In the first case, adding different syrups to the honey increases its volume and hence reduces the production cost. On the other hand, early removal from the hive allows beekeepers to produce more honey in less time.
Immature honey has a higher water content and needs further artificial drying. In both cases, the quality of the final product is reduced and a substance that does not meet the standards of how honey is made reaches consumers.
We’ve asked Google about it..
It is logical to ask how to know if a honey is genuine and therefore how to protect against its counterfeits. When reviewing the results on Google, we came across all kinds of “tried and tested recipes” and ways to identify real and fake honey and decided to check and prove or disprove the most popular.
The napkin test
What is the test? According to this test, a drop of real honey dropped on a napkin or blotting paper will keep its shape. Fake honey, on the other hand, will spill onto the napkin and a layer of water will form along the contours of the drop.
Can we trust it? Yes and no. The napkin test checks the water content of the honey and in most cases, real honey will indeed keep its shape. However, this is not the case with acacia or other early spring honey type, especially if it is a new harvest and has recently been removed from the hive. Acacia honey generally has a higher water content and is therefore more liquid than other types of honey. It may spill on the napkin, but that doesn’t mean it’s fake, so always consider the type of honey and its properties.
What is the test? A drop of genuine honey placed in a flat container and covered with water will form hexagonal shapes when shaken.
Can we trust it? No. There is no scientific explanation for why honey would form any shape when shaken. Moreover, because of its physical properties (greater relative weight than water and stringency), the honey would remain at the bottom of the container and not change shape for several minutes until it slowly begins to dissolve in the water.
And not to be glib, we put this statement to the test. We dropped some honey from our apiary into a jar cap, of which we are absolutely certain of the properties and qualities. We poured in water and shook it.
Do you notice the little bubble in the top right of the honey? You can tell by it that the drop does not dissolve easily in the water and does not form any shapes.
Ants (don’t) eat honey
What is the test? If the honey is real, the ants would not touch/eat it. In different sources we came across different explanation of this test. Some claim that bees protect their honey with a natural ant repellent to avoid ant attacks, others that ants only eat artificial honey due to the presence of added sugar in the form of some kind of syrup.
Can we trust it? No. Ants will eat anything that has any nutritional value to them, including real honey. Bees have no repellent against other insects. If they did, beekeepers would not complain about ant infestations in their hives. As for the second assumption, honey is also inherently sugar. Depending on the type of honey, about 80% of its composition is the mono sugar fructose and glucose.
Density and water solubility
What is the test? There are several ways to recognize quality honey by its density. As a rule, honey is a thick liquid, and if it is too thin, dissolves easily in water, or the air bubble rises too quickly to the surface when the jar is turned upside down, it is probably diluted.
Can we trust it? Yes and no. These tests check the water content of the honey, but as mentioned above, it varies depending on the type of honey. Approach this test critically and tailor it to the properties of the particular honey.
At home, it is difficult to prove accurately whether a honey is 100% genuine and pure or mixed with other substances. This is actually the reason why honey is the third most adulterated food right after milk and olive oil. On the one hand, no test is reliable enough, and on the other hand, counterfeits are becoming more and more sophisticated and more and more similar in appearance to authentic honey.
The best way of testing the quality of a honey remains laboratory analysis. That is why we trust these studies and test each batch of honey using three methodologies: pollen analysis, electrical conductivity and water content. In addition, we also monitor the performance of the bee colonies using our Beebot sensor technology. This way, we are always sure to deliver quality honey to you without having to waste napkins, search for tasting ants or pour honey into all sorts of trays and plates.