CHOICE membership

The purity of Australian honey



Some comments from the CSIRO on honey testing:


@BrendanMays from the article:

"The samples they tested were all either wholly imported or blends of both imported and locally-produced honey. 100% Australian honey products weren’t tested.

If you want to make sure the honey you’re spreading on your crumpets tomorrow morning is actually all the honey it’s cracked up to be, you’re best to buy 100% Australian honey because these have been subjected to more rigorous testing. It’s when ingredients or products are imported the food chain becomes more complicated and difficult to trace."

Are they talking about the rigourous C4 testing which as been claimed not to have shown the adulteration during tests in Germany? Or, is there NMR testing being carried out here in Australia that hasn’t been disclosed to the public yet?

Are they suggesting that no Australian manufacturer or supplier has ever cut the honey with other products?

If testing to ensure purity and provenance is to be carried out, should not ALL honey sold in Australia by larger businesses be tested?


To my understanding there is no official NMR testing on Australian products yet, so I’d assume the CSIRO is referring to the C4 test. Under the law, both imported and local honey must meet safety requirements, so I’m also not too sure what they mean by ‘more rigourous testing’. Maybe this referes to the ability to inspect operations? It’s fair to say that supply chains do become more complicated with imported products, so the advice to buy Aussie honey seems sound to me.

There was the case of Hi Honey a few years back who were fined for misleading consumers with a ‘map of Australia’ when the honey was actually mostly imported. I think we can agree that it’s at least possible that an Australian supplier might cut their honey at some point, and probably there will be more ongoing testing in the future to this end.

All big business honey is currently tested, and in the event of any changes to official testing regimes (such as the addition of an NMR test), I’d imagine this will be applied to all honey but it’s something to watch. The horticulturlist who commissioned the recent NMH testing was in the SMH recently defending the motives of undertaking the tests too.


Very popular with Chinese. They buy it in bulk and send it to China.


Saw a home test done on honey online… a teaspoon of honey and a table spoon of cold water over it… swirl the bowl, if it dissolves then it’s fake. If you end up with a honeycomb pattern then it’s real.

Tried it with my organic honey and saw a honeycomb pattern.


Good question! because “Aussies” are all so honest … whatever an “Aussie” is …


The following wikihow is a great read about honey and how to test it at home.

It concludes there is no single one home test that is reliable although some can give an indication that honey may have a particular impurity. Eg added water.

Just noted pure honey is approx 18% water anyway.
And some syrups used to dilute honey behave in a similar way to pure honey making home testing for these very difficult.

We have a local source of natural organic honey that is almost black, thick like tar and definitely bitter. It will fail the taste test alone, but comes from a reputable source. The bitter tone is a characteristic of the source according to a independent third party.

The CSIRO suggestion of traceable products is one positive although a block chain may be fanciful for the computing costs involved. That the CSIRO can use isotopes to identify product source locations. This suggests that testing using advanced methods to determine if there is something added that does not match the source location may be enough if the accountability is also transparent.


I would take this with a grain of salt.

No straightforward test of broad chemical composition, such as the sugar molecules present, is useful because the cheats mimic the sugar composition of real honey with cheaper substitutes and there is considerable variation in natural honey. The industry tests in use (that are not all 100% reliable) go into the detail of the composition and its origin. The bulk physical properties; melting boiling, viscosity, colour etc, will not distinguish real from fake.

Honey can be adulterated with many substances in varying quantities and unadulterated honey comes from many sources at various times of the year and may or may not be blended. How does such a simple test deal effectively with so many variables?

If a simple test was available why would the industry be spending money on such complex and expensive analysis as C4 testing (measures the atomic isotope composition) and NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance)?


All it said was real honey will leave a formation of honeycomb and not dissolve.

It’s was not suppose to be scientific.

My organic honey left a honeycomb pattern and didn’t dissolve in water…


Science is not just things done in big laboratories by dudes in eyegalasses and white coats. You or I can do science if we like. The attitude and the method is the key not the price of the toys.

It is about making reliable observations of the world and accurately interpreting them in a way that can be verified by others. If the “try this quick test” brigade on the internet published their data and the reasons why they believe their test works I would be more impressed. Even then I would want to check their sums!

Am I a sceptic? Yep, it has saved me much grief over the years.


Is this the video?

I suspect that the pattern is because of the wave action/water flowing over the surface of the honey. These patterns are similar to those seen on the surface of sand banks in rivers/oceans, just a smaller scale.

I think that it won’t show real compared to adulterated honey…as it will depend on the solubility and viscosity of the ‘honey’ when the home test is performed. In winter, the solubility will be a lot less and viscosity of the ‘honey’ a lot higher as the tap water will be cool/cold. These patterns will take longer to form and the honey will not dissolve as quickly.

The reverse would apply in summer as the solubility will be higher and viscosity of the ‘honey’ lower making the surface ripples appear quicker and/or the ‘honey’ dissolving more quickly.

Honey will also dissolve into water. If one places honey in a glass with tap water say at around 20oC, the honey will eventually fully dissolve into the water with agitation and patience. At boiling point, the honey will dissolve almost instantaneously with agitation.

I suspect the same effect in the video will occur with high viscosity syrups such as treacle/golden syrup, when the water is cool. With these sugar syrups, the ability to see the effect will be less as they are darker in colour.


I have just received an email regarding an update for a petition I signed. It was started by Simon Mulvany in relation to Capilano Honey.

If anyone would like to support his petition or him, the links are in the article.

If there was any chance that we might have ever bought Capilano honey again, it has certainly gone out the window after their disgraceful, high-handed behaviour,


I really wish I could believe in the NSW Supreme Court but, from experience, I can’t… and now it’s been sent to the VIC Supreme Court. Apparently Capilano have spent around $2m on their case… not sure how your average Joe is supposed to counter that… justice can’t be achieved until the trial is completed but most “people” can’t afford justice.

It’s despicable that a company can take an individual through a very expensive court proceeding for making claims on a blog whereas corporations are breaking the law left, right and centre and it’s up to the individual to do something about it, via a very expensive court case… something seems a little unbalanced here.


I used to be a subscriber, but they sent me so many garbage campaigns that I dropped it. Choice doesn’t run the range of campaigns, but also doesn’t have some hidden agenda.

On the subject of honey, I accidentally bought a ‘honey product’ a few years ago. On tasting it was clearly not honey, and we returned it for a refund. I also wrote a complaint to the supermarket, and the product disappeared from shelves shortly thereafter.


Their constant requests for money drive me nuts. The company that owns it, one of Soros’s I think, would be making a fortune out of slacktivists.

#119 is off topic on this thread but it has been brought into it by the equivalent of a drive-by.

Quite true. It can be seriously annoying.

Your reference to Soros and ‘slacktivists’ as you did was curious. There is a partisan organisation that has made that claim without any evidence cited. While not the most authoritative resource, Wikipedia first


and a business journal article


Since we’re on the subject of, I might as well describe the kind of campaign that led me to leave it.

I kept getting emails about things like “this guy who molested my child is about to get out of prison and the government needs to change laws to keep him locked up!” Now I’m not in favour of child molesters in any way, but I am in favour of the rule of law. If someone has been sentenced for a crime, and served their sentence, they deserve freedom. If the person has not been rehabilitated, then that’s a problem for society rather than the individual; we need to improve rehabilitation programs. They do not deserve further punishment because we failed them!

Law based upon individual cases is bad law!

So after seeing repeated calls like this - and very few important matters being addressed - I unsubscribed.


That and many others - I agree.

Has ever actually demonstrably changed anything? or is it just a bleating/venting-ground for people who need it? I don’t mean that to sound condescending, we all need to bleat/vent sometimes, just it might be as useful under a blanket in the corner of the garage, quietly, with no witnesses …


Yes - although it is difficult to quantify the website’s effect. A lot of entities - including governments - see large numbers of petitionees as meaning “this issue is important to our stakeholders”. Here is the list of Australian ‘victories’.

Important note: while claims to have forced change, it is impossible in many circumstances to identify whether its campaigns have in fact. Obvious example: is claiming responsibility for the pardon of James Ricketson in Cambodia. This is an issue that should have been taking a lot of the Foreign Minister’s time, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, so it is not clear that was the catalyst for the decision - or if it was part of the catalyst.

Those caveats aside, I suspect that is having some impact - and not simply directly. There have been media reports on prominent campaigns. Once something like that gets into the media, public relations people start earning their inflated salaries. Issues such as Queensland laws permitting ‘gay panic’ as a legal defence for murder, or persuading Coopers Beer to support marriage equality.

The manner in which operates is one where I think it is impossible to identify its ‘contribution’ to changes large and small. That said, I think the contribution is real, as shown for instance in the Federal Health (and Sport???) Minister’s response to a petition regarding the treatment of women with endometriosis.


I’m typically a bit (lot) cynical, but you make a good point (if I read correctly) that whether the change is directly attributable or whether they are ‘just’ part of a cumulative weight brought to bear - they may well have influence, some or lots. Like so many things, hard to quantify - it’s possibly a bit of a medley - them, some press referencing them or them referencing press, etc etc. Still not a born again fan, but still good points …