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Shark Idle Science

Laser Intended For Mars Used To Detect "Honey Laundering" 387

A laser tool funded by the European Space Agency to measure carbon on Mars is now being used to help detect fake honey. By burning a few milligrams of honey the laser isotope ratio-meter can help determine its composition and origin. From the article: "According to a Food Safety News investigation, more than a third of honey consumed in the U.S. has been smuggled from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. To make matters worse, some honey brokers create counterfeit honey using a small amount of real honey, bulked up with sugar, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery (a type of unrefined sugar) and other additives—known as honey laundering. This honey is often mislabeled and sold on as legitimate, unadulterated honey in places such as Europe and the U.S."
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Laser Intended For Mars Used To Detect "Honey Laundering"

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  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:12AM (#42932523) Journal
    Ok, fake honey is bad. But even legitimate Chinese honey is crap. Honey is honey, right? Bees fly around, collect nectar, then spit out honey. (Yeah, yeah, the types of flowers affects the taste. I'm getting to that.) But a lot of Chinese honey doesn't involve flowers at all -- the bees drink sugar water. For all I know, that happens in the US, too. As mentioned above, go to a farmer's market and buy some local honey.
  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gregor-e ( 136142 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:13AM (#42932527) Homepage
    That's great and all, but in my experience, small local one-jar-at-a-time-by-hand producers charge about twice as much as the grocery store does. I can't believe that all the honey in the grocery store is fake. Or that the local producer's honey is really twice as good.
  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:16AM (#42932543)

    I just make mead for my local apiary and get honey by the bucket in exchange. That obviously won't work for everybody but it's worth a shot if you're feeling adventurous.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eksith ( 2776419 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:17AM (#42932545) Homepage
    Don't know about your local market, but in our market, yes, it is twice as good... and then some. Plus if you're talking about produce, it hasn't been on a truck half way across the country before getting to the display shelf, so you can be sure it's fresh. You do taste a difference.
  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyn1c77 ( 928549 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:20AM (#42932553)

    Most places in the US have a small local honey industry. Support it.

    Supporting local businesses is good if you want small business to remain alive.

    But that's not going to stop a "local" merchant from buying Chinese fake honey, pouring it in smaller bottles, and then selling it at twice the price.

    So buying local isn't really a fix for smuggling and fraud.

  • Buying local (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:20AM (#42932555) Homepage Journal

    When you buy local, it tends to have a greater economic impact on your local economy than if you buy from outside your local area.

    This information is useful to people who give a greater or lesser "moral weight" to supporting their local economy vs. their regional economy vs. their domestic economy vs. the world economy. Those who more strongly favor firing the economic engines of 3rd world countries than they do their domestic, regional, or local economic engine will use this information and say "Sell me that 3rd world honey, please, even if I have to pay extra." Those who favor the opposite may be willing to pay a premium - perhaps even a 100% premium - for locally grown/locally produced goods.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:24AM (#42932573)


    for as much as a person buys does it really matter if it cost twice as much to know you're getting locally-produced product? just skip a $6 coffee on the one day every six months honey is on your grocery list.

  • by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:34AM (#42932615)
    Once again, space industry technology is applicable to everyday life right here on earth. Pay attention, you stupid assholes in government!
  • by multiben ( 1916126 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:35AM (#42932619)
    Fake honey? Really? I wasn't even aware there was a fake honey underworld. I love honey and now I have to worry about whether some fuckwit has filled it with something else? Thanks alot you wankers.
  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:35AM (#42932621)

    Sorry, but good honey have *never* been cheap. If it's cheap, it's probably not very good (it's good indicator).

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StormShaman ( 603879 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:38AM (#42932641)

    Fresh? I thought honey lasted for years. It certainly has to in my house; I don't use it very fast.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:42AM (#42932657) Homepage Journal
    This advice cannot be overstated. The benefits cannot be overstated. When I travel, and am going to be there a week, I try to get a bit of local honey. It really helps with my allergies. It also provides an unique local flavor. Yes it does cost more and many will complain that the flavor is inconsistent, but do we really want to live in a world where everything is made to minimize cost and maximize consistency. I am sure that many do. For those who don't, local honey is one way to make the world a less banal place.
  • by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:52AM (#42932713)

    It would no doubt be much more efficient to develop "space" technology from everyday advancements, rather than to develop everyday advancements from "space" technology. This is because everyday advancements fund themselves.

    Among rational people, it would be difficult to procure funding for planting an American flag on the Moon, but it would be easy to procure funding for GPS, satellite communications, asteroid mining, transportation, weather and geographical mapping, etc. These are all things that could lead to planting a flag on the Moon when it becomes inexpensive to do so through some private enterprise that already exists due to having served some directly useful purpose in people's lives.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:59AM (#42932745)

    I can't believe that all the honey in the grocery store is fake.

    If it costs half as much, odds are its got filler in it.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @01:48AM (#42932933)

    Fresh? I thought honey lasted for years.

    It does. That's why the honey you buy at the Stop & Shop could have been sitting in a tank in China for several years.

  • by ridgecritter ( 934252 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @02:07AM (#42932981)

    I think reality disagrees with you. The tech you listed was pushed into being by military, cost-is-no-object requirements. GPS happened because the US military needed a precision location system, and a space-based system was the only way to make it happen. Integrated circuits, which led to microprocessors and all the rest, happened because the US military had to miniaturize guidance and control electronics for ballistic missile systems. All of the decades of aerospace R&D which SpaceX is building upon to such good effect in reducing launch costs were undertaken by noncommercial, mostly cost-insensitive nation/state participants.

    Basically, the $0.75 GPS chip in your iPhone happened in response to the prior existence of the GPS system. I doubt that Steve Jobs at his best would have been successful in persuading the US DoD to put up GPS. But with GPS already in the sky, he had a firm base on which to monetize the mass-market potential of the system (as did others - just using Jobs/iPhone as one example).

    This is how it's worked over the centuries: human conflict drives development of "stuff" that ordinary consumers/businesses could never get funded through their own economic models. Then people think of wider uses for the "stuff", and (manufacturing volume + tech advance) make the capabilities cheap.

    So while you may think it more efficient to have space technology develop as a consequence of everyday advancements, it seems that in fact, everyday advancements more often proceed from the incredibly expensive cutting-edge wacko development work undertaken for reasons completely outside the purview of everyday economics. I think efficiency is a complicated and subtle thing.

  • by gonz ( 13914 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @02:17AM (#42933017)

    Here is the original self-promoting story from Food Safety News: []

    However, from searching Google News (e.g. "china counterfeit honey"), the results are merely people's blogs that link to the same Food Safety News article. I'm sure FSN is providing a helpful service of raising awareness, but they are not an impartial group who we can expect to conduct a reliable investigation. Where are the confirming sources?

    Their article references the FDA, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture -- but I can't find anything on those sites to support the article's opening claim that "A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China."

    Can anybody provide a citation?

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Monday February 18, 2013 @06:02AM (#42933675)

    News at 11, humans are greedy fuckers and will cheat you every chance they get.

  • Re:Buying local (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @06:49AM (#42933855)

    People with that sort of attitude are the reason we have people selling honey laced with antibiotics and heavy metals. Screw everybody else, as long as I get ahead. Show a little social conscience.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday February 18, 2013 @08:35AM (#42934205) Homepage Journal

    You know, for an extra two bucks you can get almost a pound of Folgers or Maxwell House which perks pots and pots of coffee. His point is, if you're spending six bucks for a cup of something that costs pennies to make, bitching about an extra buck for quality honey is just stupid. Especially since that jar of honey will do you for months instead of hours.

    If I were moderating you'd get a "funny".

    It just struck me why people drive so stupid when I'm on my way to work -- they're racing to Starbucks, while I'm already well caffenated.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:17AM (#42934865) Homepage
    Because the owner knows someone who makes honey, and wants to support other local businesses?
  • Re:Buying local (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CowTipperGore ( 1081903 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:33AM (#42934997)

    Your notion might please Adam Smith but your global economy and efficiency at all costs ignores the real impacts to each and every locality. I don't find it particularly helpful to a take a self-sufficient local culture, turn them into a monoculture doing whatever one thing that the globalists find they can do the best/cheapest, and make them dependent on people on the other side of the world for something they did themselves a generation ago. There's more to life than maximizing your economic output, particularly when most of the benefit accrues to others and you've mortgaged your future to do it.

  • Re:Buy local honey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:53AM (#42935207) Journal

    Why does everyone wonder why locally produced food costs so much, instead of wondering why the over processed megacorp garbage is so cheap?

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll