Traditionally there have been huge efforts in the economic adulteration of honey. Food Production Trends published a major paper on the subject. The following from that report is a summary of potential issues:
“Economically-motivated adulteration (EMA) is the adulteration of food for financial advantage. The high value of honey puts it at risk for EMA because of strong economic incentives. The honey market is a truly global market, with over 60% of honey used in the U.S. coming from imports. There is currently no U.S. federal standard of identity for honey, which hampers regulatory efforts to ensure the safety and quality of honey. Several types of EMA have been identified in the honey industry, including dilution with less expensive syrups, intensive supplemental feeding of honey bees, unapproved use of antibiotics, and masking the true country of origin. Various factors have led to quality control vulnerabilities in the international honey market, including decreased domestic production, the lack of a federal standard of identity, insufficient analytical methods, trade policies, and country-specific testing for antibiotic residues. Despite regulatory efforts, regulatory agencies and trade organizations have struggled to
ensure safe, high quality, appropriately labeled honey in the international market. This lack of quality control has potentially far-reaching consequences for public health, prices on the worldwide honey market, and the livelihood of beekeepers.”
Note that a major source of adulteration can be beekeeper practices such as supplemental feeding and application of antibiotics. Contributor Rusty Burlew cautions beekeepers about their supplementary feeding practices. Antibiotic use by beekeepers for foulbrood control is also suspect in honey adulteration. There’s evidence that long-term use of at least one kind of antibiotic promotes resistance, which becomes counter productive over the long term.