CHOICE membership

The purity of Australian honey

country_of_origin
purity
shopping

#1

I would like to hear Choices response to this recent post in the change.org petition - Imported Honey to be labelled with Country of Origin. Eg. China, Argentina…

It is a very interesting post which raises more questions than answers.


Fake (or at least dodgy) Foods
Encouraging meaningful discussions - what are your thoughts?
#2

Hi @Indi14

Could you please post a link to the change.org petition you are referring to?


#3

Hi,

below are the link details.


#4

Sorry meltam6554, should have mentioned to refer to the petition updates regarding the topic I was referring to.


#5

Thanks @Indi14
I went from the link you supplied and found the actual petition.
https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-imported-honey-must-be-labelled-with-country-of-origin-eg-china-argentina/u/18082025.

I have also now read the article in Choice. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/food-safety/articles/imported-honey-contamination-claims-reviewed.

It would seem to me that the author of the petition, Simon Mulvany, has a bee in his bonnet (couldn’t resist that pun) and is running an vociferous campaign against Capilano.

Have a look at
http://www.beethecure.com.au/who-we-are/
http://www.beethecure.com.au/capilano-vs-savethebees/

From this, it would seem to me that the change.org petition is just using the Choice article as another attempt to stir up resentment against Capilano, while for it’s part, Capilano is trying get court orders to silence him.

You may wish to read Capilano’s response to the claims at
http://capilano.com.au/au/news/15/statement-regarding-untrue-allegations?gclid=CjwKEAjwsuK_BRDD9ISR1bawwUwSJACbOiixvK_8ixzH2ntibGKbAr79VEs_sWSFgYpMNHrVlIQwhhoC2Dzw_wcB

All in all, it seems like the petition is being used as a tool in this person’s vendetta against Capilano.


#6

Thanks for the info, always good to have all sides to a story. I think the point he was trying to make though; was, Choice didn’t do their own independent tests. Maybe I’m missing the point?
I will keep watching to see how this battle continues to play out.


#7

OK first, there’s an accusation in the petition that CHOICE has taken “cash for comment”. This is utter garbage. CHOICE never takes money from brands to endorse products. Never have done, never will. We are a chartered non-profit – to do that would violate our constitution and our values, which we take seriously. CHOICE exists to help consumers, full stop.

I’ll find out more from our investigators – but from my reading of our article on this issue we looked into it, and decided that the honey testing that the Australian Quarantine and Inspective Service (AQIS) and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) do is trustworthy. The claims of toxicity are bunk. On the other hand we do agree that country of origin labelling should be strengthened.


#9

Thanks Viveka, you’ve confirmed what I thought about it.

This is another unfortunate example of misleading internet petitions- relevant facts are twisted,or left out entirely to give a false impression of the actual situation. The terrible grammar in this particular petition doesn’t inspire much confidence in its veracity either, yet thousands appear to have signed it.

Another recent example of this sort of petition involved Nestle’s plans to bottle water in Arizona. I spoke with some friends who live in Phoenix about it, and whilst they agree that Nestle’s plan is a bad idea- mainly because it takes an essentially free resource and wraps it in plastic to sell, with the associated pollution/landfill/wasted resources issues, some of the statements about the water supply were incorrect. Not many people bother to check facts before signing these petitions though.


#10

I am very interested in the results of this one, Capilano have still been using imported honey and labelling it Australian honey?? If that’s the case, I believe that is misleading the public. Better labelling laws required.


#11

Hi @narelle,

Check out the info page here for the new country of origin labeling laws.

Companies have until 2018 to transition to the new arrangements, which require companies to have a bar chart that describes how much of their product is Australian.

Capilano as a company have brands that use international honey so those brands will have to transition to the new system within that timeframe.


#12

Hi viveka,
Could you respond to the following statements made in the October 7 petition update:~
* The article fails to mention other supermarket brands like Beechworth, Archibald and Penisula honey who guarantee they have always been 100 percent Australian honey. These companies unlike Capilano Ltd do not use honey from China, Argentina or Mexico.
* Choice fail to mention what Australians are most shocked about Chinese pollen or that Capilano admit that illegal antibiotics may be used in the Australian honey production process
* Choice you need to do a supermarket honey comparison which Includes tests for antibiotics, pollen origins, glysophate (roundup), Neonicotinoids (insecticides).


#13

G’day,

Our food expert @rclemons who wrote the article will respond directly to those points but is on leave right now - returning tomorrow. There are points worth addressing – thank you for extracting them @jepc.

From my reading the fundamental disagreement between CHOICE and the petitioner is that we take the testing and assurances from AQIS and FSANZ seriously and they don’t seem to. It’s worth noting that the detections of antibiotics in honey happened overseas in 2002, and Australia has been checking for it right up to 2015 without finding anything. I’m puzzled by the Chinese pollen thing – is this a concern people have? I know people can have pollen allegies that can be triggered by ingestion but as a parent of a child with anaphylaxis that doesn’t ring any bells for me. Anyone on here know what that’s about?

From the article:

In response to CHOICE’s questions about the monitoring of imported honey, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources responded that under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, imported honey is subject to surveillance inspection at the rate of five percent of consignments; however, this rate increases to 100% if the imported product fails inspection.
“Until late 2015, samples of imported honey were tested for antibiotics; however, due to high levels of compliance over the past ten years this testing ceased,” it advised.

The article doesn’t tell you what to conclude about that – CHOICE is just giving you the facts. Maybe testing one in every 20 consignments doesn’t sound like enough to you. Maybe it sounds like plenty. Maybe the fact that AQIS has stopped testing for antibiotics reassures you – obviously they don’t think it’s a concern and it’s their entire job to worry about this stuff. Or maybe it worries you, and you think they, and CHOICE need to take it more seriously. That’s fair enough.

Meanwhile the petitioner’s claim that CHOICE isn’t joining in his campaign because we are in the pay of Capilano is not fair, reasonable or remotely true. But don’t worry, that won’t stop us taking our members’ concerns seriously. If there’s a real issue here we’ll take it on; if it’s an overblown concern then we’ll focus on something where real harm is being done to consumers. In a world where your phone can spontaneously catch fire and release toxic smoke, payday lenders give out fake financial advice to hook people on debt, $21/L camel milk is being sold as a cure for autism and cancer, and your hot dog bun may contain dangerous metal shavings, we’re on it.


#14

Hi @jepc

Thanks for your comments. Hopefully I can clarify things further, so I’ll respond to each of the petition statements you’ve highlighted in turn:

  • The article was focused on checking the facts on some of the key claims that were floating around social media about honey, specifically Capilano. It was never intended to be a comprehensive review and comparison of all supermarket honey brands. Certainly there are many supermarket brands of honey that are 100% Australian, but they weren’t being accused of fobbing off imported honey as Australian. As it turns out, several of the brands owned by Capilano do use imported honey, which many people may not have realised, so we felt it important to provide this information in the article. The associated country of origin labelling isn’t overly helpful either, as we pointed out.

  • Of the headlines that crossed our desks via social media, the most alarming claims, in our opinion, were that Capilano is selling toxic and poisonous honey to Australians, so we addressed these. We haven’t seen an admission from Capilano regarding the use of illegal antibiotics – can anyone point us to a source for that claim? Our understanding is that last year, the National Residue Survey analysed honey samples from around Australia for antibiotics, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, metals and environmental contaminants and the overall compliance with Australian standards was 97.6 per cent. If and when limits are exceeded, responsible government authorities and industry are alerted so that corrective action can be taken. We would expect that companies using illegal antibiotics would be identified by this process. The use of Chinese pollen didn’t register for us as being what most shocked Australians. Is it thought to be unsafe because it’s from China? It’s something that would require further investigation if we were to comment on that.

  • We’ll certainly consider this suggestion. However it’s important for consumers to know that the National Residue Survey already carry out a lot of this testing - and have the resources to test for a more comprehensive range of contaminants across a larger sample size than we could manage.


#15

If you believe the kangaroo court…


#16

There is an enormous space for improvement. “Packed in Australia from quality local and imported ingredients.” from an Allowrie honey label. Does this mean 5% Australian and 95% overseas content? or 50/50? Who is to know? So we need to know exactly what the proportions are. Secondly, why does it take 2 years to change labelling? Obviously the companies will have some stock of labels but I think 2 years is a bit rich. Australians need to know as soon as possible whether they are buying cheap overseas rubbish or genuine Australian honey.


#17

Just a wee aside to the poor Capilano stance… I know several organic bee keepers in NSW and QLD and I am appalled at the mafia type of stronghold Capilano has over the Australian bee keepers. They, Capilano, have been known to insist on all bee keepers buying into Capilano shares to participate in honey sales, all the while the Australian honey is cooked and blended into a homogenous Capilano Product that is mixed with whatever other honey they have in stock, sourced from wherever they like. Not at the same health standard that our Aussie honeys are… but all treated as inferior as those cheaply imported from China, Argentina, etc… these organic beekeepers are now exporting their beautifully pure product, uncooked, and deliciously diverse to various countries all over the world. They’re effectively boycotting Capilano, which I’m glad to hear… but sadly the aussie market loses out by not being able to purchase the end product as it is exported. Thanks Capilano… thanks globalization😔


#18

Consumers can boycott the big honey companies by finding a local apiarist and buying raw untreated honey direct from them instead of buying from supermarkets. It’s what I’ve been doing for years, because I wanted local pure unadulterated honey.


#19

Agreed, once you have tried raw untreated honey you will never go back to supermarket honey again and it is as cheap if not cheaper than some supermarket honey.


#20

Maybe these reports are worth a read:

and this about testing:


#21

I changed from store bought honey two years ago and a year ago I cut out sugar and replaced it with honey. I am a senior with a considerably weakened immune system and for the first time in a long time I have not had the flu this year. My local honey supplier supplies totally natural honey and is extremely reasonable with his prices. So folks if you are every travelling through Hopetoun WA, look for this honey at the local CWA on Saturday mornings.