Bera Foods has been forced to pay a penalty of $10,200 by the ACCC for misrepresenting its "Hi Honey" product as real honey. In reality, the spread is predominantly composed of plant sugars. In addition, Bera Foods was found guilty of falsely implying the product was Australian-made, when it was actually produced in Turkey.
Bera Foods is the latest honey producer to fall foul of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for willfully misleading consumers about its products. In recent months, the ACCC has taken steps against a range of suppliers to ensure products labelled as "honey" are in fact produced by honey bees.
Six months ago, Basfoods (Aust) Pty Ltd was forced to cough up penalties totalling $30,600 after finding itself in a similarly sticky situation. Its "Victoria Honey" brand was also produced in Turkey from corn syrup and cane sugar.
"The ACCC was concerned in this case because although “Hi Honey” was labelled as honey, the product was not actually honey produced by honey bees. Honey suppliers must ensure any products they sell as “honey” are in fact produced entirely by honey bees,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court explained in a statement.
“Further, the inclusion of a prominent map of Australia on the Hi Honey label may have led consumers to conclude the product was produced in Australia when this was not the case. Credence claims such as this are a priority area for the ACCC, to ensure consumers are given accurate information about the content and origin of products."
This is yet another reminder that you can't trust food manufacturers to be totally honest. You should always check the ingredients when buying honey products, especially if it seems unusually cheap. An Australian flag or cartoon bee is no guarantee of quality.