Sweet deception: New test distinguishes impure honey from the real thing

May 07, 2009
Sweet deception: New test distinguishes impure honey from the real thing
Scientists have developed a test to identify adulterated or impure honey. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Here's some sweet news for honey lovers: Researchers in France are reporting development of a simple test for distinguishing 100 percent natural honeys from adulterated or impure versions that they say are increasingly being foisted off on consumers. Their study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Bernard Herbreteau and colleagues point out that the high price of and its limited supply has led some beekeepers and food processors to fraudulently make and sell impure honey doped with inexpensive sweeteners, such as corn syrup. These knock-offs are almost physically and chemically indistinguishable from the real thing. Scientists need a better way to identify adulterated honey, the researchers say.

Herbreteau and colleagues describe a new, highly sensitive test that uses a special type of chromatography to separate and identify complex sugars (polysaccharides) on their characteristic chemical fingerprints. To test their method, the scientists obtained three different varieties of pure honey from a single beekeeper and then prepared adulterated samples of the honeys by adding 1 percent corn syrup. They showed that the new technique accurately distinguished the impure honeys from the pure versions based on differences in their sugar content.

More information: “Polysaccharides as a Marker for Detection of Corn Sugar Syrup Addition in Honey”,

Provided by American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Rooting out horse-meat fraud in the wake of a recent food scandal

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