Oh honey. It turns out that even one of nature’s most purest substances isn’t immune to dodgy labelling. A recent report has shown that a number of brands available on Australian supermarket shelves were not 100% honey. So what were that? And how do we know what we’re getting? Let’s unpack it.
According to a recent article by the ABC, an international scientific lab that specialises in honey fraud detection (SIDE NOTE: What a cool place to work?!), tested a range of honey available on the shelves of Australian supermarkets. The results? Almost half of the honey samples selected were “adulterated” OR mixed with SOMETHING other than nectar from bees.
WHAT TESTING METHOD DID THEY USE?
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Sounds fancy, but is it valid? Well, it depends who you ask. NMR has been praised by the Australian Bee Industry Council (is it just me, or is this secret world of bees opening up realms of incredibly awesome job possibilities?); but slammed by Capilano-Allowrie, one of the companies to come out worse off by the findings. Coincidence? You decide.
WHAT WAS IT MIXED WITH?
They don’t say, but many would assume that the honey has been mixed with other sugar syrups. These syrups can come from sugar cane, corn, wheat, beets or rice and don’t necessarily affect the taste or consistency. Why do they do this? Usually because these options are cheaper and easier to produce.
WAS IT ALL HONEY?
No. According to the ABC article, “four of the six IGA Black and Gold private label products registered as adulterated, two of six ALDI Bramwell’s private label brands failed the NMR test and six out of eight of Capilano-Allowrie branded bottles had adulterated honey when NMR screening was used”.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE BUYING?
In short, we don’t. However, a representative from Germany’s Quality Services International said it was the Chinese aspect of the honey that was adulterated not the Australian honey.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time this has happened. According to “The Conversation”. back in 2014, the ACCC fined two companies for selling “Turkish Sugar Syrup” labelled as honey. Even in 2014 the issue arose with the use of imported products and as such, the ACCC has recommended caution when buying international or Australian “blends”.
WHAT ARE THE SUPERMARKETS DOING ABOUT IT?
- ALDI is investigating the claims and they would remove the product should they discover any variation to the formula.
- Woolworths is reviewing the claims and taking it up with the supplier.
- Coles had already deleted Allowrie products in July (for unrelated reasons).
- IGA haven’t made a comment as yet.
WHAT’S THE MESSAGE?
If you have one of the affected brands, there’s no need to throw it away as it is still safe for consumption however, when you’re at the supermarket next, check your labelling and buy Australian owned and made. Let’s face it, it’s better for the environment, for the farmer’s and for the economy 🙂
If you’re still confused, supermarket brands like Beechworth Honey have said they only used Australian honey and have come out of the investigation unscathed 🙂
WILL THIS CHANGE THE WAY YOU BUY HONEY GOING FORWARD? I would love to hear your thoughts.