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British Food Journal Volume 47 Issue 9 1945

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 September 1945



The Hebrews of old were promised a land “flowing with milk and honey,” a description which, in the opinion of the biblical writer, expressed every desirable quality. Many excellent persons consider that we are the Lost Ten Tribes. If that be so we have little reason in certain respects to congratulate ourselves on change of habitat; with regard to milk the opinion of the British Medical Association is worth consulting, as well as a perusal of current police court proceedings. With regard to honey there is well known classical as well as scriptural authority which is justification for the belief that honey as a naturally formed substance is a wholesome food. This belief, fortified to some extent by experience, is undoubtedly held by the ordinary purchaser and consumer of honey. Whether at breakfast or at tea in dining room or nursery—especially the latter—he expects to get a liquid with a characteristic taste and smell primarily obtained by bees from the nectaries of flowers. Like all foods it is a complex with chemical constituents and physical properties varying between certain limits. It has a dietetic value of its own. There is no substitute for it. The mel depuratum of the British Pharmacopœia is also assumed to be genuine honey, not materially changed in nature, substance, or quality by the treatment it receives as a preliminary to its introduction as a constituent of various pharmaceutical preparations. It may be reasonably assumed that this conception of what honey is or should be is held by members of the medical profession, by pharmacists, and by students of dietetics alike. It is impossible to imagine that any of these would seriously think that any artificial product could adequately replace honey. Yet so‐called honey substitutes have been on the market for years past and are still sold. With some vague implication—usually expressed in small print on a label—that it is not the genuine thing. This as a rule conveys little or nothing to the mind of the housewife who, buying it in a closed glass container, is guided by the colour and also influenced by the price of her purchase. Taste and smell being excluded under the conditions of the ordinary “over the counter purchase,” she is left to discover its other virtues when it appears on the family meal table. The Ministry of Food seems to give an implied sanction to this form of commercial enterprise by defining the term “imitation honey” (The Sugar and Preserves (Rationing) Order, 1945) as meaning “any manufactured product, whether containing honey or not, which is made up to resemble honey in appearance, consistency and flavour.” It is unfortunate that imitation honey should be officially acknowledged as a legitimate trade product, for it is surely no more a substitute for the genuine product of the hive than is a faked half‐crown for the real thing. The sale of imitation “honey,” which may contain no honey at all, is a matter in which the demands of public health and fair dealing should receive priority over trade expediency. Nor is it easy to see how the delicate and characteristic flavour of honey is to be successfully imitated. It has been said that food manufacture is more and more assuming the character of a branch of industrial chemistry. Imitation honey is surely an exemplification of that statement if for the moment it be regarded as a food. We are, however, by no means inclined to think of it as anything of the kind. It may not be positively harmful, but in our submission a genuine food consumed under ordinary circumstances by the normal person is and must be positively good. The alleged value of this stuff cannot be expressed in terms of merely negative qualities. On the contrary, it is pretty effectively damned by them. It is in fact mere gut lumber of no dietetic value. In addition to this, it would seem to have a fairly wide and perhaps an increasing sale. At the present time everyone who can do so is being very rightly urged to grow more food in personal and in national interests. There seem to be few indications that the present state of things will be bettered in the near future. Allotment holders and smallholders are being increasingly recognised as important contributors, within their limits, to the national food supply. Honey is a food. It should form a cheap and wholesome addition to the ordinary meal. Bee‐keeping is not only well within the range of the small‐holder's activities, but seems in many ways to be peculiarly adapted thereto. Many organisations, official and otherwise, exist with the avowed object of instructing allotment holders and smallholders how to keep bees, and encouraging them to do so. A ready market will be a measure of their success. We believe that such a market exists and that it would grow if people were assured that a supply of home‐made honey at a reasonable cost could be had. The interests of neither producer nor consumer are served by a market in process of being glutted by imitations masquerading as substitutes for the real thing.


(1945), "British Food Journal Volume 47 Issue 9 1945", British Food Journal, Vol. 47 No. 9, pp. 79-88.




Copyright © 1945, MCB UP Limited

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