The Chinese Are Shipping a Lot of Illegal Honey to Houston, Feds Say

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Federal authorities in Houston are seizing a lot of sticky icky icky of a whole different kind (although they certainly catch a lot of weed, too). According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the feds have caught more than 400 pounds of illegally imported Chinese honey here in recent months.

Since October, the feds have seized about 448,000* pounds of the stuff shipped to Houston, valued at some $2.45 million. ICE claims the honey is of Chinese origin, dumped on the U.S. market to be sold at super low prices, thereby undermining domestic honey producers.

The U.S. Commerce Department started to crack down on honey dumping in 2001 because of Chinese dumping. Back then, the imposed duties as high as a whopping 221 percent of stated value, but later lowered them $2.63 per net kilo in addition to a "honey assessment fee" of one cent per pound of all honey. (They're very serious about honey.)

In addition to undercutting U.S. honey producers, the feds also claim Chinese honey might be "adulterated." Back in 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning stating foreign honey sometimes contains the antibiotic Chloramphenicol, which isn't approved for use in domestic honey farming.

The feds say the most recent bulk shipments of illegally imported honey to Houston appear to have come from Latvia. Federal agencies are working with authorities in Frankfurt and Latvia to get to the bottom of it, according to a release sent out yesterday.

-- *Correction 3:30 pm: An earlier version of this post inadvertently left out three very important zeros, as a commenter has helpfully pointed out.

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