Fake honey claims an argument for supporting local food producers
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Fake honey claims an argument for supporting local food producers

Accusations our supermarkets are selling "fake" honey adulterated with vegetable syrups to consumers more concerned about price than quality are a timely reminder of why it is best to buy local.

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The allegations, detailed in a joint Fairfax-ABC investigation on Monday, were based on tests commissioned by King and Wood Mallesons on behalf of horticulturist, Robert Costa. The results have been forwarded to Interpol.

The tests, conducted in Germany at the Quality Services International laboratory, indicated 12 of the 28 samples supplied were not pure.

Six Allowrie bottles, four IGA Black and Gold bottles, and two Aldi bottles failed the nuclear molecular resolution testing regime (NMR). NMR testing is intended to detect impurities and is different to the standard tests conducted by Australian food regulators.

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Australian regulators began testing imported honey samples for adulteration with vegetable sugars such as sugar cane and corn syrups in October 2015.

Capilano, the company which markets Allowrie as a budget brand that usually undercuts 100 per cent Australian sourced product by one or two dollars for a small bottle, has strongly denied claims of adulteration.

Up to 70 per cent of the honey in a jar of Allowrie can be sourced from overseas. Capilano's CEO, Ben McKee, told Choice in 2016 countries of origin included China, Argentina and Mexico.

Honey could not be imported into Australia until 2004. The restrictions were eased as a result of a local product shortage brought about by the "millennium drought".

Britain, the European Union and the US banned all honey imports from China in 2002 in the wake of an antibiotic contamination scandal.

The honey adulteration allegations, which saw Aldi withdraw some suspect product from its shelves last week, is just the latest in a long line of food contamination concerns affecting Australian consumers.

While those allegations are still in dispute, it's a timely reminder to consumers of the benefit of buying locally grown or produced foods, where possible. Not all countries share the high standards of quality and purity that have made Australian produce highly soughtafter in overseas markets.

But an increasing number of goods on supermarket shelves are appearing from overseas sources, often undercutting the local alternative on price.

While there do not appear to any immediate health concerns about the allegedly adulterated honey products named by the joint Fairfax-ABC investigation, the fact remains that if the test results are correct local consumers aren't getting what they pay for.

Honey, unlike sugar cane and corn syrups, is highly regarded as one of the most pure and natural products you can buy.

Given even the cheapest honeys retail for 50 per cent more than a premium cane sugar syrup, there is a strong incentive for overseas suppliers to attempt substitutions.

The best way to counter such tactics is to spend an extra one or two dollars and go with the 100 per cent Australian product.

Doing so is not just a choice about quality, it puts money back into the economy and supports Australian industries and the jobs those industries create.