Stung! Lifting the lid on SA honey fraud

08 August 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201811103

Agriculture & Sugar
Food & Beverage
Quality Assurance

HOWICK-based Peels Honey has welcomed recent media exposure of fake and adulterated honey being sold as the genuine article to unwitting consumers, warning that this practice was fast becoming the norm in South Africa.

“It is fraud committed on consumers, putting consumers’ health at risk, undermining the South African beekeeping industry’s viability and threatening South Africa’s agriculture and food security in general,” the company said in a statement.

“Peel’s welcomes the efforts of investigative journalists who have started uncovering the ugly truths of fake honey in South Africa. These include the recent ConsumerTalk feature on CapeTalk on 25 July 2018, and M-Net’s Carte Blanche exposé on 29 July 2018.”

The company called on the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to strengthen the resources of its inspection and law enforcement team.

“If the department does not take urgent action, the South African honey industry will not be able to survive, endangering hundreds of jobs”, said Peel’s Managing Director and Beekeeper-in-Charge, Craig Campbell.

He added that beekeepers play a critical role in ensuring that South African commercial crops are able to compete in global markets by providing pollination services, making them a key component of the South African agricultural industry.

“The continuing demise of the South African beekeeping industry will be detrimental to consumers, agricultural jobs, commercial famers, and the South African economy alike.”

The company warned that retailers’ extreme focus on high margins and low cost products, together with insufficient product due diligence, allowed fake honey to proliferate. “Fake honey makes its way to the shelves of trusted retail chains and even in-house brand and private label bottles.

“Also, retailers are clearly not promoting compliance with food labelling regulations which is evident from the labels of product on shelves blatantly not complying with labelling regulations in that most labels do not indicate 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 reasonably circumspect consumer to understand or appreciate what they are purchasing.”

The company is advocating for a National Beekeeping Action Plan that would allow the local industry to grow into a competitive and sustainable sector which will increase employment of rural South Africans and allow for the export of high quality South African honey products that can compete with the best internationally.

“Such a plan would include proactive measures to combat fake honey and the dumping of cheap, sub-quality honey imports on to the local market. It would provide the basis for growing the value of the local honey market from R3.2 billion to beyond R20 billion.”

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