Earlier this year, five people and two honey-processing companies were charged for what is now known as HoneyGate. In order to avoid paying tariffs that the U.S. government had imposed on Chinese honey, the defendants transited honey from China through other countries and mislabeled it to make it appear as if it came from Indonesia, Thailand, or other nations.
After they were caught, the honey launderers were charged with evading $180 million in import duties. To make matters worse, some of the honey contained unauthorized antibiotics and other impurities.
Now a recent article in Businessweek traces the involvement of a German company called ALW, which was deeply involved. ALW purchased Chinese honey, faked documents, and located U.S. buyers for the sweet contraband. The operation has been called the “largest food fraud in U.S. history.”
Years before the defendants were charged, scientists such as Texas A&M’s Vaughn Bryant had been testing pollen samples in honey and had determined that the labels on many jars contained misinformation about their countries of origin, as the following video shows:
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