If you want real honey, get your own honeycomb.
Consumers are bound to be disappointed if they try to buy honey on the streets or in the markets, especially the organic-looking kind that claims to come from hill tribe villages in the northeast.
This gourmet product has honey’s rich, golden color and even has dead bees suspended in it. But it’s not honey. Instead, a rash of fake honey has overtaken cities, outraging residents.
The recent seizure of 414 liters of fake honey in Battambang revealed the scale of the problem to an unsuspecting public. An official with the Battambang goods control office, Camtrol, said the fake honey was made of sugar, water, alum (aluminum potassium sulfate, a white powder used in dyeing and tanning), and a small amount of real honey.
“This is cheating,” said An Sophat, head of the Battambang Camcontrol office. He appealed to consumers to examine honey “thoroughly before buying or you will be cheated of your money.”
The huge load of fake honey was confiscated by Camcontrol officers after complaints from Battambang buyers. Tracing the product back to its source, they raided a guest house run by a local woman and found the stash. The con artist, however, was not apprehended and has so far eluded officers’ attempts to track her down.
The recipe for the fake honey, An Sophat said, involves about 50 kg of sugar, 20 liters of water and 300 grams of alum. It’s boiled until the solution becomes slightly sticky.
This mixture is chilled, then mixed with just 5 liters of real honey to give it a taste and smell closer to the real thing. Sprinkling in real bees adds a touch of authenticity.
But those who have fallen victim to the scam say it tastes sugary, watery and bland, with none of the gentle herbal and floral undertones of real honey.
A Battambang resident said fake honey makers were taking advantage of the high demand and short supply for real honey, which, because it is labor-intensive to make and not widely produced, is too expensive for many people to buy.
In addition to eating honey, honey is used as an ingredient in traditional medicine, he noted.