What you need to know about honey fraud in South Africa

Fake honey makes its way to the shelves of trusted retail chains and even in-house brands and private label bottles. Many consumers are blissfully unaware of the fact that globally, honey is one of the top 10 products most susceptible to food fraud. The effects of adulterated honey consumption on human health are not widely known, mainly due to low public awareness. Adulterated honey is mixed with sweeteners and syrups. It can induce obesity, increase blood glucose levels and demonstrate toxicity effects. That is why raw honey is so important.

It comes down to. . . you need to know what you are buying. Adulterated honey does not change the appearance of the honey but it does change the taste. If your honey tastes like syrup, it's not pure honey. It's difficult to detect from the shelf which one is the real deal, however, sparkling clear honey is often the giveaway of an unnatural processed and filtered product.

And to add to the problem, retailers are not complying with food labeling regulations, which is evident from the labels of products on shelves. Most labels do not indicate the countries of origin, meet legal design requirements, nor provide a clear indication of the type of honey supplied. All that makes it impossible for even a reasonable consumer to understand what they are purchasing. When honey is labeled as being produced locally, but in reality, it has been imported or diluted with imported honey, not only is the consumer misled, but it means that the local beekeepers cannot compete with the low pricing of these adulterated honey.

So how would you know:

1. Price. In South Africa, after considering the cost of (pure) bulk honey, bottling costs, distributor and retailers’ margins, a consumer will pay R65-R90 for a 500g bottle of pure, South African honey. Compare that to supposed honey products found on the shelf for only R30 to R35 for 500g. That price would barely be sufficient to cover the honey cost of the individual beekeeper, leaving nothing for the cost of bottling, transport, or retailer.

2. The international acceptance level of C4 ingredients is 7% or less.

3. Raw honey will appear cloudy. This is because it comes straight from the honeycomb. The beekeeper will usually just filter the honey to remove small bits of debris eg pollen.

For more interesting stories on South African honey, visit peels.co.za


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