Imported honey adulterated with undeclared sweeteners, FDA takes action

In a recent report, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has disclosed the findings of their investigation into imported honey, revealing economically motivated adulteration (EMA).    

The FDA collected and tested 107 samples from 25 countries, focusing on products held at ports before being released into domestic market. The samples, labeled as "honey," included both retail (individual jars) and bulk (barrels or drums) shipments.  

EMA takes place when, in a food product, a valuable ingredient is deliberately excluded or replaced, or when a substance is added to enhance its appearance or worth. As part of the FDA sampling initiative, the aim was to detect products that secretly incorporated cheaper sweeteners, such as cane, corn, rice, or sugar beet syrups.  

Previous sampling and testing programs conducted by the FDA in 2021 and 2022 had shown that 14 percent of the samples were intentionally adulterated.    

The recent investigation revealed that out of the 107 import samples tested, 3 percent were found to be violative. The FDA's report emphasized that statistical comparison between this assignment and the previous one was not intended.  
The adulterated honey originated from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Yemen.  
Upon identifying violative samples, the FDA took immediate action, refusing entry for those shipments into the US market. To further address the issue, the FDA has increased screening and surveillance sampling.    

The recent investigation serves as a reminder of the susceptibility of honey to EMA. The FDA intends to persist in testing honey for adulteration through their import sampling and risk-based import entry screening program. Violative samples will face compliance actions, and in certain cases, could be subjected to criminal investigations.

The FDA continues to collaborate with domestic and international regulatory partners to combat EMA in various food products, including honey. By prioritizing testing and enforcement, the agency aims to protect consumers and ensure fair value for their purchases.