1. Honey laced with insecticides

    Everyone's buzzing over this chemical found in honey

    Ever hear of "honey laundering?"

    It's a silly sounding name, but the practice itself is dead serious.

    It's when honey from places like China, which are not allowed to export the stuff to the United States, is sent to another country first to hide where it's coming from.

    Then, it's shipped off to the United States, where consumers will have no idea they're eating honey that could be tainted with drugs -- including hormones and antibiotics -- as well as dangerous metals and other toxins.

    And those aren't the only risks.

    A new report exposes one more potential problem, revealing a contaminant that could be hiding in your honey even if yours hasn't been laundered.

    Three-quarters of the world's honey contains trace levels of pesticides!

    In tests conducted on 200 honey samples taken from all over the place, researchers found detectable levels of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids in 75 percent of them.

    Nearly half of the samples contained two or more neonicotinoids, while 10 percent had four or five.

    This isn't just any old bug killer.

    Neonicotinoids are up to 10,000 times more potent than DDT -- and while they're billed as "safer" than some older chemicals, there's really very little research on what happens to humans who are exposed.

    The closest we have is animal studies, which suggest these chemicals may harm the developing nervous system -- putting pregnant women and children at the highest risk.

    And the damage might not be limited to the little ones.

    One study on rats suggests the chemicals can cause "neurobehavioral impairments" and possibly interfere with nerve function.

    So, while scientists say that nearly all of the levels of these chemicals found in honey were within the "safe" limits for people, that's not necessarily cause for comfort.

    No one seems to truly know what the "safe" limits are!

    Unfortunately, the highest levels of contamination were found right here. Eighty-six percent of the samples from North America contained at least one neonicotinoid.

    If you want honey, buy some from a nearby beekeeper (if you can) instead of cheap mass-produced supermarket honey, which is far more likely to contain pesticides and other contaminants.

    Local honey also contains local pollens and may help you fight seasonal allergies as well.

    Just be careful how much you use. At its heart, honey is still one of the simplest of all simple sugars. That means a beehive full of empty calories -- not to mention a spike in blood sugar -- so be especially careful if you have or are at risk for diabetes.

    A little honey in some herbal tea might be fine, but dumping it into recipes or using it like jam won't do you any favors.

  2. Why you should never buy honey from the supermarket

    You might think the most difficult part of choosing honey is deciding between a little plastic bear and big glass jar.

    Turns out the decision's a lot more difficult than that -- because just about all the honey in your supermarket is barely even honey at all.

    A new analysis finds that more than three-quarters of mass-market honey is low-quality junk that has been stripped of all its pollen.

    That's not just a key part of what makes honey honey. It's also the one and only way to identify where the honey came from -- and when the pollen is deliberately removed, it's a sure sign that it really came from China.

    Cheap Chinese honey is banned from most places and heavily taxed in others to keep it off the market, and with good reason: It's often contaminated with antibiotics and toxic heavy metals.

    But it's still getting here. Chinese beekeepers simply remove all the pollen and sell it through a middleman in another country -- often India.

    There's even a name for the practice: honey laundering. And it's so common that recent tests on more than 60 honey samples from stores in 10 states and Washington, D.C. found that 76 percent of the honey sold in big chain supermarkets was completely pollen free.

    In other words, this stuff is almost certainly "laundered" Chinese honey.

    The tests also revealed that 77 percent of the honey from "big box" stores such as Walmart, Costco and Target were missing pollen, along with 100 percent of honey sold in chain pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS.

    Just about the only honey from a chain store that had pollen was the honey from Trader Joe's. The other consistently reliable choice: the vendors who sell honey at local farmers' markets and co-ops.

    Food Safety News, which ordered the tests, has a complete list of honey brands that contained no pollen -- and they're brands found in cupboards across the country, including Sue Bee and Winnie the Pooh.

    Yes, not even Pooh Bear is safe from Chinese honey!

    Read the full list here.

    Of course, there are other reasons to make sure your honey is local: In addition to supporting local beekeepers, honey with local pollen can help protect you from seasonal allergies.

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