The manufacturer of Victoria Honey has been ordered to pay $30,600 in penalties for falsely claiming that its products were produced by honey bees. In reality, the chief ingredient is plant sugar derived from corn and sugar canes. To add another fly/bee to the ointment, the honey is actually a product of Turkey rather than Victoria as the name suggests. Tch.
When most people pick up a jar of honey at the supermarket, they generally assume it was made by actual honey bees; especially if they're prominently illustrated on the label. However, it turns out that some of these cheery cartoon insects can't be trusted. Today, Basfoods (Aust) Pty Ltd was forced to cough up penalties totalling $30,600 for willfully misrepresenting its honey.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued the infringement notice after finding Victoria Honey was mainly comprised of sugars from plants including corn and sugar cane. This was despite claims on the product's label and website that it was produced by honey bees.
The ACCC issued an additional infringement notice relating to the product's name: the consumer watchdog considered “Victoria Honey” falsely represented the product as originating from Victoria, Australia when in fact it was a product of Turkey.
Basfoods has since admitted that its conduct contravened Australian consumer law. In addition to paying the fines, it has agreed to publish a range of corrective notices and will only market products as honey that are entirely produced by honey bees from now on.
"False claims of this kind not only mislead consumers but can also disadvantage competing honey suppliers, particularly those who source honey locally within Australia," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“Honey suppliers should now be on notice that they must have a basis for selling a product as ‘honey’, which likely should include tests to confirm the product is in fact honey produced entirely by honey bees."
The ACCC warns that Basfoods and Victoria Honey are not the only culprits, with other honey suppliers officially put on notice:
Honey suppliers must have a basis for selling a product as ‘honey’, which likely should include tests to confirm the product is in fact honey produced entirely by honey bees. The ACCC is aware of concerns in relation to other suppliers and products labelled as honey and will pursue these further with the benefit of the outcome in this matter.
The takeaway from this is that you should carefully check the fine print when buying honey products, especially if it seems unusually cheap. While the name and/or slogan might fib, a deeper investigation of the ingredients list will usually reveal the truth. Also beware of 'organic' and 'free range' honey claims: with no universal governing body in place, this is often little more than marketing guff.