Thailand named in honey laundering

China is flooding markets worldwide with cheap sweeteners mislabelled as honey - and using Thailand to do it, accounts from the US said on Thursday.

The case against Chinese honey exports has been building for months.

Unscrupulous businesses in China are producing sweet products containing tiny amounts of real honey and packed with corn and rice syrup, malt sweeteners and raw sugar, said a report on the Business Insider site.

It may be sweet but some "honey" is not what it appears to be. (File photo)

The deception has grown more complicated recently, the story said, because when US regulators placed punitive import duties on Chinese honey exporters for dumping, the Chinese began sending their products through neighbouring countries, including Thailand.

The "laundered" honey thus appears to come from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand or other neighbours.

The US Justice Department late last month indicted two US companies and five people, accusing them of selling mislabeled honey, some of which contained lead and illegal antibiotics.

The indictments, which are summarised online here, specify Thailand as a country used to launder the honey shipments.

US middlemen knew the honey was illegally laundered, the indictment said, and provided details of the smuggling operation in exchange for having charges deferred.

Others face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $2 million.

Testing of the smuggled "honey" in the US also revealed toxins including lead, other heavy metals and the antibiotic chloramphenicol.

The honey laundering could potentially put the legitimate honey industry in Thailand at risk.

Thai beekeepers export honey to North America and to Europe.

Related search: thailand, china, united states, honey, mislabel, laundering, indictment

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