Something trying to pass for pure honey can look and taste almost identical to the real thing, yet be diluted with cheap sugars and syrups.

Murray Hannigan is the president of Hannigan Honey in Shellbrook, Sask. The family business produces over one million pounds of honey every year, but Hannigan said it’s impossible to match the low cost of diluted honeys when sugar syrups cost a fraction of the price.

“If honey is being sold at a $1.80 and sugar syrup is at $0.30, there’s a lot of money to be made.” Hannigan told CTV News. “It’s affecting our bottom line and potentially could put us right out of business.”

In 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) prevents more than 28,000 pounds of adulterated honey from entering the Canadian market by testing for those cheap sugars.

CFIA chemist, Jonathan Hache, said it’s cheating the consumer but more importantly, it’s cheating the honest producer by lowering the price they can get for their pure honey.

Hache and Hannigan warned it’s not only bulk honey to watch out for but products like cereals, granola bars, and sweetened drinks that list honey in the ingredients.

Hache said it’s harder to identify whether honey is pure or not once it’s baked into a product.

“It’s really frustrating that the cheaters are actually winning in this game.” Hannigan said.

When it comes to consumers identifying diluted products, Hache recommended looking at the price as adulterated honey will often be cheaper. Hannigan said the best way to avoid “fake” honey is to learn where the product comes from, shop local, and look for the “Bee Maid” label.

Bee Maid is a co-operative of Canadian producers that guarantees the product is 100% Canadian and 100% pure honey.