Muscat: With the Omani honey market being flooded with hundreds of brands, the chances of consumers being hoodwinked with adulterated product have gone up recently.
You should not be surprised if you discover that the lovely source of empty calories is adulterated, or worse, fake honey. Experts have been warning consumers to enjoy the benefits of honey only after considering its purity.
Fake, adulterated or artificial honey are common these days like many other food commodities. It can be quite a challenge to distinguish between fake and pure honey. According to an industry insider, fake honey is being sold by the drum at cheap prices to customers in public places.
"Producers are offering fake honey in markets, roads, homes, farms, and everywhere, at cheap or expensive prices," the source said. "Real honey comes from bees not factories. Pure honey is natural and organic."
Ali Ahmed al Raeesi, Superintendent at the Crops Department of the College of Agriculture and Marine Sciences, noted, "Fake, impure or artificial honey has added sugar syrups, molasses, corn syrup, dextrose, corn starch, water, or other flavours, as well as additives."
While there are many laboratory tests to distinguish between fake and genuine honey, researcher Ali has prescribed some simple tricks to check the purity at home.
The most common test is to add a spoonful of honey into a cup of warm water. If it dissolves in the water it is fake.
Another simple test is to add two spoons of honey in a small jar and refrigerate it. If the honey is frozen, it means it is impure.
Another equally straightforward test is to add a drop of iodine to a small amount of honey in a bottle. If the mixture turns blue when shaken, it means there is high amount of sugar, which usually is a sign of adulteration.
One more simple test is to place a small amount of honey on your nail, and check if it spreads around like any other liquid. If it does, it may not be pure.
You can also test honey easily while you eat your breakfast. Putting drops of honey on a slice of bread is another test. If the bread becomes coarse after half an hour, it means the honey is pure.
Many differences between pure and fake honey can be identified. "Customers have to understand that there are two main sources of honey. Infectors' sources, which means plant honey, and ponens’ sources, which means products of bees," Ali revealed.
Worse still, honey can be contaminated with antibiotics factors such as colour.
"The flavours and colours of honey depend on the nectar sources (where the bees buzz). Acacia honey is dark amber. Presuppose honey is dark brown. Alfalfa honey is from flowers, and it is light amber, while buckwheat honey, premium honey and clover honey range from white water colour to extra light amber.
Orange blossom honey, which is used to bake cake, is white light. Each type has a different colour, and we cannot say they are adulterated because of their brown, white, light or extra light amber colours," he explained.
"It is difficult to determine the purity of honey based on its colour, because it is not accurate," he added.
According to Abdullah Al-Nizwani, a beekeeper based in Ibri, fake honey is sharp on the tongue. The taste remains a little longer because of the sugar.
"Impure honey is runny, because it is mixed with water and other types of honey. Sidr honey is heavier on the stomach than Simr honey which is light."
While there are several simple methods to test the purity of honey, Zaher Al-Mahrooqi, Crops Technician at the Sultan Qaboos University farm, has clarified the components of pure honey. Natural honey is made up of fructose (40.05 per cent), glucose (34.02 per cent), cane sugar (2.36 per cent), water (17.7 per cent), sucrose (1.5 per cent) and other natural ingredients (4.37 per cent).