Honey on the BBC’s Food: Truth or Scare show

Thanks to Mark Patterson from the London Beekeepers Association for posting about this – bee expert Professor Dave Goulson featured in a segment about pesticides in honey on the BBC show Food: Truth or Scare last Wednesday (available to UK viewers for another 22 days).

Food: Truth or Scare TV show screenshot

The honey segment starts at 21 minutes in. The presenters, Chris Bavin and Gloria Hunniford, look at headlines from last autumn about pesticides found in honey – “75% of honey we eat contains pesticides” reads one, quoting a study in which scientists tested 198 honeys from around the world. “I always regard honey as being pure, about being healthy, about being mending” says a shocked Gloria.

“Do we need to worry about the honey we eat?”, Chris chirpily asks Prof. Goulson. Together they look at an observation hive and we hear that honey bees travel up to five miles to forage, meaning they inevitably come into contact with pesticides. It’s also explained that many UK supermarket honeys contain honey blended from several different countries, often a mix of EU and non-EU honeys. Even organic honey producers cannot guarantee their honey is pesticide-free – certainly in the UK there is no organic farm big enough to provide over a five mile radius of pesticide-free forage.

However, Dave tells us that the good news is that the levels of pesticides found in honey are small – the concentrations are low and well beneath what are deemed to be safe levels for humans (in the short term!). There are concerns about the possible long-term effects of pesticides on us – no-one really knows for sure what the effects might be. However, Dave is going to carry on eating honey – phew! Not a surprising conclusion but a reminder of the environment our bees have to contend with.

Further reading

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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8 Responses to Honey on the BBC’s Food: Truth or Scare show

  1. Ron Miksha says:

    Thanks for the post. As chemists begin to measure things in parts per billion (and soon, parts per trillion!), we can expect more of these sorts of scares. Glad the BBC ‘news’ folks made it clear that we are talking about sub-toxic levels. [By the way, I couldn’t watch the piece as I’m in Canada and BBC won’t play Food: Truth or Scare to computers outside the UK.]


  2. Lindylou says:

    We have a tv programme along similar lines but in my opinion it is dreadfully populistisch and put together to evoke shudders…. Last year a beekeeper was interviewed and he was describing how bees pass what is brought by the foragers in mouth to mouth until it is dehydrated enough for putting into wax cells….. He did try as best he could to explain the process. The programme interviewer then concluded ….. ” So the honey we eat is really bee vomit …..” The poor beekeeper, unused to media people, could only look confused and nod….
    And that was broadcast on national tv….. It’s just too stupid really.


  3. If it is good enough for Dave Goulson then….Amelia 🙂


  4. So, it was really a non-story?


    • Emily Scott says:

      I’m afraid so – not a surprise. At least they got a genuine bee expert in (Dave) to give accurate information.

      The gluten-free info at the beginning of the show was more new to me. I always buy regular bread/wheat products and didn’t know that not only are gluten-free ready made products often more expensive but they tend to contain more fat and sugar than conventional wheat products.


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