The honey industry has found itself in a sticky situation this week with Australia’s largest honey companies facing accusations of selling “fake” honey.
Jodie Goldsworthy is the Director of Beechworth Honey based in Corowa and Beechworth and has written to AustralianFarmers to give us an insight on the situation.
With recent independent testing of imported honey by one of Australia’s leading law firms establishing that nearly half of the imports tested were adulterated, we are now relieved to see this issue being referred to the ACCC for investigation. Significant media coverage has ensued.
The only power and control Beechworth Honey has had in the lead up to these events was to act with integrity and do what we knew was right. Our stance has always been clear, strong and unwavering – no imported honey for Beechworth Honey. 100% Australian honey … Always.
Therefore, we can reassure you, our Australian honey is pure, natural and safe. It is time to get behind Australian beekeepers and buy Australian honey to help them – after all honeybees pollinate ⅔ of Australia’s fresh produce. Feel safe and feel confident in buying Australian honey in our supermarkets.
— Beechworth Honey (@BeechworthHoney) September 5, 2018
Over the years, we have adopted strategies to inform and educate decision makers about the risk of some imported honey. We have knuckled down and worked to build relationships with the best and most ethical Australian beekeepers to grow our genuine Australian honey supply. These beekeepers amaze us every day with their dedication to bees and honey production. It is an honour to work with them.
As in many industries, to protect Australia’s good reputation of clean food production we need to have a robust food safety system in place including best in class testing, excellence in supply chain risk management, transparency and traceability to the origin of the food. NMR is acknowledged as the best test available for identifying adulterated honey by all the leading industry bodies but this is just one tool in the reassurance and risk management process.
As consumers you have the power to read the label and buy from businesses with a good track record of honesty and integrity. Look out for local producers and family owned companies in Australian supermarkets – please spread the word and help on our quest to protect the good reputation of genuine honey! Check the country of origin label on the back of any honey. It has to be there by law. Only buy ones that say Product of Australia as these are 100% Australian honey or Made in Australia from 100% Australian honey.
Thank you again so much for being a part of our journey and enjoying our products.
Bee strong, bee honest, bee smart!
For more on the “fake” honey sandal and how the honey is tested see this summary by AustralianFarmers below:
The “adulterated” honey products were alleged to have been mixed with something other than nectar from bees, such as rice and sugar syrup and labelled as “pure” honey in Australia.
The test which detected the adulteration was conducted by Germany’s Quality Services International lab using a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) test.
Twenty-eight honey samples were collected from supermarket stores around Australia, including ALDI, Coles, IGA and Woolworths. Almost half (12) of the samples failed the NMR test, detecting sugars other than honey.
The same 28 samples were tested under Australia’s official testing method, the C4 sugar test, and all 28 samples passed, demonstrating that all samples were pure honey.
Four out of six IGA Black and Gold private label, two of the six Aldi Bramwell’s Mixed Blossom private brand and six out of eight of Capilano’s Allowrie brand tested positive for adulterated honey.
How is the “fake” honey detected?
In Australia the official honey test is called the “C4 sugar test”. Plants have different ways of producing sugars and bees collect nectar primarily from flowers of plants which produce C3 sugars. The C4 test picks up the sugars which are not honey (C3), therefore detecting the “fake” honey amongst the pure honey.
The NMR test, which detected the adulterations, measures how the nuclei in a honey atom responds to different magnetic fields, compiling a “fingerprint” of the honey sample. This means that the NMR test is not restricted to only testing C4 sugars and can detect honey sugars from any source and potentially pinpointing the geographical location of a honey source.