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ACCC finds no reliable evidence of fake honey

Capilano groceryConsumer watchdog ACCC has concluded its investigation on allegations against Capilano Honey and has found that Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), is not yet reliable enough to determine if honey is adulterated.

In September, the ABC and Fairfax Media reported that a number of honey products, including Capilano’s ‘Allowrie’ honey, labelled ‘pure’ and ‘100 per cent honey’ were adulterated with sugar syrup based on the results of NMR testing.

The consumer watchdog found that this form of testing should not be used as a basis to support legal action, which is consistent with the approach of regulators in the UK, US and EU.

The consumer watchdog found that Capilano had taken steps to reassure its consumers, and did not find any strong evidence to support the allegation that ‘Allowrie’ honey, was adulterated with sugar syrup. There remains low confidence in the C4 test which is used in Australia.

“During the course of our investigation however, it also became evident that there is low confidence in the current test method (the C4 test) used to detect adulterated honey. Governments and research agencies around the world are investigating alternative testing methods, including NMR, but these are not yet developed to the point they can be used with sufficient confidence,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

Ahead of the ACCC investigation, Capilano had allegedly breached Australian Consumer Law for misrepresenting its ‘Allowrie’ honey and other similar products this year.

“The ACCC understands that where there are different tests for honey products that produce different results, it can cause significant frustration among consumers and industry,” Keogh said. “We understand the Department of Agriculture, which is best placed to determine the most appropriate form of honey testing, is reviewing testing standards. It’s important that consumers have confidence in the claims made about the foods they purchase, including honey. The ACCC urges the honey industry and the Department of Agriculture develop an agreed approach to testing, and implement more robust programs to provide greater assurance about the integrity of their products.”

Since 2015, the Department of Agriculture has tested imported honey using the C4 test, which did not detect adulteration in ‘Allowrie’ honey or some other supermarket private-label products.

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