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How Mexico fights the war against fake honey products

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Melipona bee hives in Mexico. Photo: iStock

Demand for honey, one of Yucatán’s better-known exports, has grown on a global scale. And so has production of Chinese honey, mixed with fillers, and labeled as Mexico’s or another country’s.

Fraudulent manufacturers use corn syrup, soy or rice to bulk up their honey’s volume, according to the Conacyt Information Agency. They also sell their goods at cut-rate prices, hurting legitimate beekeepers and the industry at large.

The stakes are high for Mexico, one of world’s main honey producers with exports of 55,000 tons directed largely to Germany, the United States and Japan.

To counteract these frauds, the Center for Research and Assistance in Technology and Design of the State of Jalisco (Ciatej) and the Center for Innovation and Mobility SA de CV developed techniques to detect adulterated honey. The tests look at pollen, chemical compounds, the flowers from which it comes and then determine the quality and country of origin of the honey.

Likewise, with support from the 2016 Innovation Fund (PEI) and the Conacyt’s Innovation Program (PEI), beekeepers, honey gatherers and exporters comply with the quality, traceability and safety requirements demanded by countries buying honey from Mexico. Honey shipments can be rejected if pesticides, for example, are detected.

The first stage of the project introduced a BiotikApp app which documents the activities carried out in apiaries, such as a hive registry and a report on their health, the flowering record of plants surrounding the apiaries, as well as guidance on reducing the cost and time for the certification processes.

To achieve this, a Ciatej working group, led by Dr. Ana Luisa Ramos Díaz, collected honey and information from various apiaries distributed in the state of Yucatán to evaluate the pollen content in honey and determine its quality and origin.

The global decline in the bee population, due to climatic changes, loss of natural areas and indiscriminate use of insecticides contrasts with an increasing demand for honey. The natural sweetener is favored for its flavor and nutritional properties.

Beekeeping in Yucatán is a 450-million-peso business involving thousands of small-scale artisanal producers.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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