THREE words are prevalent in the recent honey controversy currently sweeping Australia - rice syrup pass.
Seemingly innocuous, this sweet additive is made from plants like sugar cane, corn, or rice.
It appears the syrup, which is openly advertised as being able to pass the official C4 test used in Australia for inspecting imported honey to ensure no adulteration, is being mixed with pure nectar and sold as 100 per cent honey.
The syrup can be easily purchased online from overseas, costing anywhere from $730 to $950AUD per metric ton. It is often described as a honey flavor food additive.
Horticulturalist Robert Costa paid for testing of samples of well-known blended local and imported honey brands bought from Australian supermarkets.
The samples were sent to Germany’s Quality Services International (QSI) lab and found almost half the 28 samples were adulterated, meaning it appeared they were blended with a substance other than honey.
Two tests were used - the C4 test, which all samples passed; and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), which detected problems.
Mid North Coast beekeeper and founder of Amber Drop Honey, Ana Martin, said she was pleased to see the issue of imported honey has come to light.
"Whether we can even trust that it is honey and that it is being discussed in mainstream media is a good thing," she said.
"We have been supporting Simon Mulvany from Save the Bees Australia in his quest for transparency since we started our business.
By importing honey, we are not only damaging our honey industry, we are putting consumer’s health at risk.Ana Martin
"Unfortunately, the tests that Australia has been conducting have proven to be insufficient and cannot reassure the Australian public that they are eating what they think they are buying.
"By importing honey, we are not only damaging our honey industry, we are putting consumer’s health at risk."
Australia has one of the cleanest honeys in the world, according to Ana.
"It is time time we realised how lucky we are," she said.
"I urge everyone to support our beekeepers by buying local honey."
With honey purity testing being put under the spotlight there are calls from the likes of Mrs Martin for the government to intervene and the ACCC to investigate.
Mal Banks, treasurer of the Mid North Coast Amateur Beekeepers Association NSW, said recent revelations are concerning.
"Some companies have allegedly been sending off their honey to other countries and it comes back blended with their honey, which is contaminated with certain things," he said.
"I'd much rather have our locally produced honey. One thing we stress at our meetings is that our beekeepers need to strive for a top quality product that is just pure honey.
"Buying local guarantees it's pure honey coming straight from the hive. It's free of contaminants and fully fermented.
"For me the honey produced locally can't be beaten. I'd never buy honey from a supermarket."