Media Release

​Protecting consumers from funny honey

15 October 2015

The Australian Government has this week moved to strengthen its testing regime for imported honey, to protect consumers from mislabelled and misrepresented products from overseas.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said imported, synthetic products masquerading as ‘honey’, could fool consumers into buying the inferior product and damage the reputation of domestic producers.

“Australian honey is world class—and our industry has worked hard to build a reputation as clean, green and sustainable producers,” Minister Joyce said.

“Mislabelled and misrepresented honey from overseas can damage that reputation which is important in domestic marketing.

“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently took regulatory action against multiple importers of Turkish honey, based on evidence of blended or artificial honey being misrepresented as ‘honey’.

“Honey comes from bees—the definition is clear. If it’s made from synthetic or other ingredients, it’s not honey.

“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources targets imports for testing at the border, with surveillance testing of all honey consignments commencing from this week, and 100% testing of honey consignments imported from Turkey continuing until a satisfactory compliance record is re-established.

“Consumers have the right to have confidence in information presented on the label. 

“That’s a key reason we are introducing a stronger country of origin labelling system for food, so consumers have clear and unambiguous information on where their food is actually from.”

Mr Trevor Weatherhead, Executive Director of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, said the council is pleased to see that the Minister has, in part as a result of industry representations, included C4 sugars in the testing protocols of imported honey.

Minister Joyce also said the previous testing regime had been in place for ten years with a high rate of compliance. 

“The department routinely reviews the tests applied to imported food to monitor compliance with Australian food standards, and adulteration of imported honey was identified as an area of concern,” Minister Joyce said.

“This is a good example of the flexibility of our imported food inspection scheme, and shows that when the risk increases, so does our level of intervention. It’s scalable and adaptable, and is continually reviewed to refine our approach.”

For more information on the new testing regime for imported honey, visit: agriculture.gov.au/import/food/notices/ifn-17-15​.