CAPILANO Honey might be fiercely denying it used adulterated foreign honey in its products, but local honey producers say the negative publicity will still have a flow-on effect for the entire region.
Capilano, Coles, Woolworths, IGA and ALDI are alleged to have sold blended honeys that contain sugar, rice and beet syrups.
Testing was conducted by German company Quality Services International and results showed 12 out of 28 samples had been adulterated, but Capilano has called into question the accuracy of the tests.
The region’s honey producers agree that while adulterated honey was not a health risk, it damaged consumer’s confidence and made it harder for smaller producers who were selling 100 per cent pure honey.
Mudgee Honey Haven business manager Adriana Smith said while her products were 100 per cent honey, the public was often unaware that some companies put additives in their honey.
“It affects us because they’re making honey that’s cheap on the shelves and they [customers] think they’re getting a natural product but they’re not,” she said.
It affects us because they’re making honey that’s cheap on the shelves and they [customers] think they’re getting a natural product but they’re not.Mudgee Honey Haven business manager Adriana Smith
“It’s not something that we thought would happen, or could happen, because we thought there would be more control over something like that.”
Ms Smith said some producers used inferior honey from China which was then boiled together with Australian honey and the high temperatures caused the honey to lose all its good health qualities.
She said that cheaper honey often had syrup, water, colour and flavour added.
While these additions are not a health risk to the public, she said it was “dishonesty” in marketing as the product was not 100 per cent natural.
Goldfields Honey Australia, located at Beekeeper’s Inn on the Mitchell Highway between Bathurst and Orange, has been operating for the past 40 years and has 7000 hives.
Managing director Vicki Lockwood said the company prided itself on making 100 per cent pure Australian honey.
“I am very disappointed that the honey that is being imported is not tested that it is pure honey,” she said.
“Australia should have protocols in place to make sure it’s pure honey.”
Ms Lockwood said for many consumers price was the major factor when buying groceries and cheap imported honey, or those produced using additives, made it harder for those selling 100 per cent Australian honey.
“I feel very sad because Australia produces the finest honey in the world because of our eucalyptus trees,” she said.
Ms Lockwood said widespread drought across NSW had led to a shortfall in honey production and she felt “sad and disappointed that we’re tainting the name of our beautiful honey with fake imported honey”.
Western Plains Apiarists’ Association president Bryn Jones said the industry called blended honey “funny honey” and it was a great concern.
He runs 1400 hives across Dubbo and said Australian producers must comply with very strict regulations when producing and selling honey.
“It has a big effect on the price we can get at the farm gate,” he said of the cheaper blended varieties.
“The biggest thing we’d worry about is if everyone stopped buying honey because they don’t know what’s in it.”
Mr Jones said international tests on honey did differ compared to those in Australia, but testing aside, methods of making honey varied across the world.
In some countries, he said bees are kept indoors and fed sugar to help them produce honey.
Mr Jones said he understood why some producers put additives in their honey so a cheaper product could be achieved for customers.
“If they stop putting in cheap products on the shelves then someone else will do it.