The term “adulterated honey” implies that the honey has been added glucose, dextrose, molasses, corn syrup, sugar syrup, invert sugar, flour, starch, or any other similar product, other than the floral nectar gathered, processed, and stored in the comb by honey bees. Legal standards and requirements for foods, including honey quality, and tests for honey adulteration vary widely amongst countries and some may not meet the wish of every consumer around the world.
Personally, when selecting honey in the shop, I think it’s almost impossible to tell the bad from the good by just looking at the honey content through the bottle or studying its food and nutrition labels. My take is always — go for the trusted or more known brands. We all know that a “pure honey” label doesn’t guarantee at all that it is not diluted with water and further sweetened with corn syrup; it just promises that there is real pure honey inside, with no suggestion of its amount.
The law does not require a “pure honey” label to say how much pure honey is in the bottle. Some honey brands you get from the supermarkets don’t carry any ingredients list and this is enough to make me feel suspicious of the quality. Also, prices are not always a good indication of quality honey. In food fraud cases, manufacturers can mix different honey floral blends and sell it as more expensive varieties such as Manuka honey. And so-called “local honey” may not be locally produced and processed local honey but cheap, low quality honey imported from other countries but bottled and distributed locally.
A common misconception is that granulated or crystallized honey is proof of adulteration with sugar water. The truth is honey is a supersaturated sugar solution and can granulate whether or not it has been adulterated, so crystallization is normal, especially in temperate climates. Furthermore, some honey from certain floral sources is especially prone to crystallization. Buying honey in the comb is one way to assure ourselves of a quality product. Comb honey is sealed in the hive by the bees; therefore consumers can be confident that the honey has not been adulterated with sugar water. However, to boost honey production, some irresponsible beekeepers feed their bees with sugar syrup so that the bees can convert the syrup to “honey”. What these bees produced is honey that is adulterated, very clear and runny, just like syrup.