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".