While Estonian honey remains purer than that produced in many other countries, the market is still susceptible to imported, cheaper synthetic produce, one expert said, while attending the inaugural beekeepers and honey fair at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Tallinna lauluväljak).
Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) at the weekend fair, head of the Tallinn association of beekeepers Tarmo Mäesalu said: "The main factors are various kinds of pollutants that can get into the honey, be it pesticides or herbicides, or be it from industry - heavy metals that can enter into the honey."
"But we have checked our honey – Estonian produces is pure, in every way," Mäesalu went on.
Not only pollutants, but also imports of synthesized honey have entered the Estonian market.
This can prove difficult to detect since, while synthesized honey as manufactured in, for instance, China, is usually made from corn syrup, pollen particles are often inserted to help pass it off as the real thing, Mäesalu said.
This can even pass tests in the lab, he added.
A key giveaway is the presence of invertase, an enzyme, Anna Aunap, honey expert at the Environmental Research Center (EKUK), told AK.
If this is absent, the product is synthesized and not natural honey, Aunap said.
"Estonian beekeepers are great though, they certainly sell authentic honey," she added.
Aunap said the best way to avoid purchasing "fake" honey, unless you specifically want to, or do not care, is not to buy the cheapest products in store or, better still, to get acquainted with a local beekeeper from which to source honey.
The Tallinn honey fair, the first of its kind, aimed to showcase to the public beekeeping, the art and tools of the trade, and perhaps even convert some fair-goers to the hobby – plus of course to sell some produce.
Tarmo Mäesalu said that the number of beekeepers nationwide fluctuates, with some people giving up due to the work involved, or sometimes economic concerns.
Quality requirements are also subject to more stringent regulations than elsewhere in Europe, Mäesalu said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Vahur Lauri.