Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Texas A&M scientist tracks origins of bootleg honey from China

30.04.2010
A Texas A&M University scientist spends hours at a time peering at slides of pollen samples, comparing them to track down the origins of honey with questionable heritage. Some of the samples contain labels from other countries when in fact they originated in China but were re-routed to avoid tariffs of up to 500 percent, says Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist and an anthropology professor at Texas A&M University.

The tariffs were attached to the import of Chinese honey about two years ago because exporters there were "dumping" it in the U.S. – selling it at a much lower price than its cost, which is about one-half what it costs U.S. honey producers. The practice has almost ruined the market for domestic honey, says Bryant, who is also director of the palynology laboratory at Texas A&M.

China is the largest honey producer in the world.

Bryant, who examines more than 100 honey samples a year for importers, exporters, beekeepers and producers, says he believes he is the only person in the United States doing melissopalynology – the study of pollen in honey – on a routine basis. For the last five years, he has analyzed the pollen in honey samples from all over the world to determine the nectar sources and origin of the honey.

He examines imported samples purported to come from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos, and usually discovers that the samples are blends "with a little honey from those countries and a majority of the blend coming from Chinese sources."

"Now there are lots of shenanigans going on to avoid having to pay those tariffs, and the investigators are way behind in following them," Bryant says. "The beekeepers of the U.S. have been pleading with the FDA to enact stricter guidelines about accurate labeling for honey, but that is a long, slow process. Meanwhile, I'm trying to help out here and there, but it's almost impossible to keep up."

Some foreign exporters get around the tariff by mixing honey from different sources, while others infuse up to 50 percent high fructose corn syrup into the honey, he says.

DNA studies of the pollen in honey is expensive and difficult, Bryant says. Isotopic studies can reveal the source, provided you have a database of isotope signatures, which for now are very limited, he adds.

"We've never had 'truth in labeling' for selling honey, and we should," he says. "And the U.S. needs to make it illegal to import honey that has been filtered to remove the pollen, which makes it almost impossible to detect where it came from."

Bryant has been a professor of either biology or anthropology at Texas A&M since 1971. He holds degrees in geography, anthropology and botany. Such variety has enabled him to address many topics – ranging from charting paleoenvironments and ancient human diets to his current emphasis on forensics and honey research.

John Thomas, who was an entomologist with the Texas A&M Extension Service from 1957 to 1992 and is a beekeeper and a major donor to the new Texas Honey Bee Facility at Texas A&M, says he is grateful for Bryant's work.

"We have fought with the Chinese importers because honey is not a primary export there; it is just a byproduct they get from these other products they produce for medicinal purposes," Thomas says. "This system the A&M anthropologists have devised is a mechanism to trace the origins of the honey through the pollens. Unfortunately, it doesn't solve the problem."

About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

Contact: Kelli Levey, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4645 or klevey@tamu.edu or Vaughn Bryant at (979) 845-5255 or vbryant@neo.tamu.edu. For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamunews.tamu.edu. Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tamutalk.

Kelli Levey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>