Stop and think about it — is everything you read in the mainstream media true? As a public relations professional, I’ve seen many instances where it’s not. A good example of this recently took place when an article published online by Food Safety News contained many “assumed” facts regarding honey filtration and a food safety term, “ultra-filtration”. One of the world’s largest honey associations, the Sioux Honey Association, based in Sioux City, Iowa, and producer of Sue Bee Honey, was falsely accused of using the “ultra-filtration” process when processing its association member-received honey. The article states that since there is no evidence of pollen in Sue Bee Honey, its origins couldn’t be determined, and therefore, it must be imported honey from countries such as China or India — two countries that have often been accused of exporting honey containing heavy metals, traces of antibiotics and other undesirable components. This is an assumption made by the reporter without verification by Sue Bee Honey. The reporter claimed that he had made attempts to contact the Sioux Honey Association and it had declined to comment on the situation. Declining comment on a situation doesn’t mean that your business should have assumptions made on its behalf.
After doing some fact finding of my own, I found that Sue Bee Honey doesn’t “ultra-filter” its honey at all. Sue Bee Honey uses standard micron filters to filter out some, if not all, pollen present in the raw honey received from its association members throughout the United States. All raw honey received by Sue Bee Honey also is tested for any harmful or unnatural contents. The USDA recommends standard filtration and quality measures be taken, and clearly Sue Bee Honey goes above and beyond those to ensure that the consumer is buying the highest quality, best-tasting honey in the world. The reporter clearly wouldn’t have a story if such fabrications regarding honey processing and honey importation weren’t stated as facts in the article. I was glad to see that Sue Bee Honey didn’t just sit idly by, but instead took the initiative to set the record straight in a recent interview with Bill Huser, vice president of research and development for Sue Bee Honey. I failed to mention that the Food Safety News is an online publication funded by lawyers representing victims of foodborne illnesses. Does that tell you anything? Let’s all be vigilant in making sure reporters check the facts before generating negative nationwide press for companies who sell quality products in the U.S. with high ethical standards.