THE Western Australian beekeeping industry has defended the quality of its product following a university report into honey adulteration.
On the back of the recent high-profile fake honey scandal, independent research from Macquarie University in collaboration with the National Measurement Institute revealed almost one in five Australian honey samples were found to be adulterated with cheaper sugar products such as corn syrup or sugar cane.
The new research, published in the prestigious Nature journal, Scientific Reports, was undertaken using the only internationally-accepted testing method revealing the problem of adulteration is a persistent global problem.
The study examined 100 honey samples from Australia, along with 18 other countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania.
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Australian honey products were found to be the least adulterated, at 18 per cent, while 28pc of European honey, and 52pc of Asian honey was found to be fake.
Lead author, Professor Mark Taylor, said the findings all point to the same thing.
“We need better regulations to ensure customers can have confidence in the product they are being sold,” Professor Taylor said.
“Currently, consumers are paying for a product that is not what it says it is on the label.”
But Bee Industry Council of Western Australia (BICWA) chair, Leilani Leyland, said the organisation takes the quality and safety of Australian honey very seriously.
“We understand that samples of honey have been gathered and tested for C4 sugar adulteration and we have noted that no Western Australian honey tested positive for adulteration,” Ms Leyland said.
“With this in mind BICWA is fully confident that beekeeping standards and the current industry Code of Practice will ensure that Western Australian honey remains disease, pest free and unadulterated.
“BICWA plan to meet with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) once the final report is made available to discuss and agree to actions to fully ensure the high quality of Australian honey.
“AHBIC will then determine if any additional training on sound beekeeping practices is required as a result of the information contained within the report.”
Ms Leyland said the Australian beekeeping community was a hardworking industry which always took on board new information and new science in order to continue to build its reputation as a high-quality producer of pure honey.
“Under drought conditions, Australian beekeepers may be forced to feed their beehives C4 sugar to avoid the bees starving to death, a practice which occurs around the world,” she said.
“Sound beekeeping practices ensure that hive feeding to prevent starvation does not take place during a nectar flow and therefore does not contaminate the honey.”
The value of bees and beekeeping to the WA economy stands at $1.2 billion in pollination and $30-50 million through honey and associated products.