Australia’s biggest listed honey company Capilano, and the supermarkets that sell it, stand accused of lining shelves with “fake” honey.
Scientific testing has shown that almost half of honey samples from major supermarket shelves are “adulterated”. This means they were mixed with substances other than nectar from bees.
Industry experts say the most common substances with which to cut the honey include rice syrup and beet syrup. Official honey tests do not detect these substances.
The supermarkets affected include Woolworths, ALDI and IGA. Coles says it ceased ranging products from Capilano for unrelated reasons in July following a range review.
Capilano’s Allowrie branded Mixed Blossom Honey sources its honey both from Australia and abroad. Capilano markets this product as 100 per cent honey. Yet the majority of samples tested came out as “adulterated”.
There is no evidence that Capilano’s brand of Australian-sourced honey is adulterated. Nor is there any evidence that Capilano, or any other brand, knew of the adulteration.
Capilano strongly denies that there are any issues with its products. It also criticised the type of test experts used to look for impurities, which is known as nuclear magnetic resolution (NMR). This test is different from the official Australian test.
However, others argue that NMR is the ‘gold standard’ of honey testing.
President of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association (Apimondia) Phil McCabe says the NMR test is the best there is. He argues that consumers simply aren’t getting what they thought they were paying for.
“Adulterated honey isn’t honey at all,” he told ABC’s 7.30 news program.
“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.
“Consumers don’t realise what they are buying and eating isn’t honey.”
But Capilano has strenuously defended its products. The company says it “stands by the quality and purity of all of our honey brands, including Allowrie, which has never failed more stringent and appropriate testing by world-renowned laboratories.”