'Fake' Honey Found On Our Supermarket Shelves

Researchers have found that almost half the honey samples they selected for analysis on our supermarket shelves were "adulterated". That is, the jars of sweet nectar included impurities which meant some of what's in the jar is actually synthetic syrup.

The researchers from Germany's Quality Services International (QSI) lab used Nuclear Magnetic Resolution (NMR) to detect the impurities. This test is different to the official Australian test but is considered to be far more accurate according to Phil McCabe, the president of the International Federation of Beekeepers' Association.

28 blended and imported honey samples from supermarket stores around Australia, including Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and IGA were examined. The researchers, who were commissioned by the law firm King & Wood Mallesons, documented the stores, locations, brands and batches.

The research found that the adulterated samples were products that blend local honey with imported stock. For example, the Allowrie-branded Mixed Blossom Honey, is made from honey sourced from Australia and overseas was found to not be 100% honey. 70% of the honey in that brand is imported.

Allowrie's owner, the well known Capilano brand denies any wrongdoing and says the NMR test is flawed as it's not the offical Australian test.

But leaked emails from the Australian Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) show it wrote to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in July requesting it review the way it tests honey, ditching the old C4 test and moving to NMR. Capilano is a member of that association and is represented on the board.

McCabe says adulterated honey isn't honey at all, telling the ABC that ""By and large [the impurity] is some kind of syrup that's been converted to look like honey, it tastes like honey. Everything about it seems to be honey, when in fact it's just sugar syrup or something else".


    Three things about this;

    1. Is there any "risk" related to the "fake" honey? ie: is it worse for you, does it taste worse? If not then *shrug* who cares.

    2. Are they sure the test is accurate? Have they tested it on honey they absolutely know is genuine to confirm that it doesn't generate false positives? Just thinking maybe certain blends of honey could produce weird results. After all the type of pollen the bees gather has a huge effect on colour, consistency and taste.

    3. Is there a list of "fake" honey brands? I wouldn't be surprised if the home brand type labels were dodgy because they're cheap and they cut corners. Be a bit disappointed if the high end expensive ones are doing it though.

      Hi. Would you like to buy my bottle of "Water"? It's much cheaper than other brands of water.

      Okay, yes, it's just a bottle with a clear liquid in it, but I've written "Water" on the side of it, so it's as good as water, right? It might be water, might not. But if it isn't bad for you, who cares?

      A large part of the argument against this is regardless of health outcomes, you shouldn't be allowed to sell a product under the name of something it's not. If it's not honey, you can't call it honey.

      Doing that also puts Australian beekeepers out of business, because they can't compete with a substitute product that is much cheaper to import:


        Not quite the analogy I'd choose. It's much closer to pure fruit juice vs fruit juice drink.

        As I said above if it's the cheap brands I'm not surprised and don't really care (I already expect them to be a lower quality product), I'd only be annoyed if it was the premium brands. Sure truth in advertising is important, but also as I mentioned above are they 100% confident in the accuracy of the test?

    I'd be more than happy to buy the right honey if there was a list provided.

    What I don't get about this whole thing is that the claims of 'fake' honey seem to be blown up out of proportion. It's not that the honey is fake, it's that it's 'adulterated'. It might not be 100% real honey, maybe it's only 99% real honey. So it's still mislabeled and should be called out I guess, but we're not actually talking about fake honey, are we?

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