When talking about honey, most of us picture clear jars of honey we see in stores. However, raw honey actually contains debris such as insect parts, pollen, and wax pieces. While some customers might purchase jars of honey with honey comb in them, no one wants a jar that contains insect parts! This is why beekeepers and manufacturers filter their honey.
During microfiltration, debris and even air bubbles are removed. Filtering helps ensure that the honey stays fluid for a longer period of time, as debris and particulate may hasten the crystallization effect of honey. It also creates a smoother final product that is uniform in colour.
Some sources have claimed that honey without pollen is not real honey, but this is false. Honey is made using nectar, not pollen. Pollen cling to bees when they collect nectar, which is why it is transferred to the honey. While the existence of pollen in honey may allow customers to verify it's source - such as the types of wildflowers it contains, it doesn't necessarily mean that honey without pollen is factory-made. Honey manufacturers who acquire honey from beekeepers may request for honey that contain traces of pollen, which allows the manufacturer to conduct a traceability test and ensure that the source is authentic before the product is filtered and packaged.
In the U.S., the standard method of filtration used is microfiltration with a pore size of 0.1 to 10 microns. Ultrafiltration is not a recommended method to filter honey, as it transforms the product substantially, turning honey into more of a sweetener that no longer contains the true characteristics of honey. In the U.S. for example, raw honey that has been filtered using ultrafiltration cannot be labelled as "honey", as it is deemed unethical, and therefore illegal.
To find out more about filtration in the Food & Beverage industry, click here.