01.When honey isn't really honey
In a case of not-so-sweet misleading claims, Basfoods has been fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for contravening the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by selling gussied-up corn and sugar cane syrup under the brand name “Victoria Honey”.
Basfoods, a Turkish and Mediterranean wholesale distributor, misrepresented that its “Victoria Honey” product was honey produced by honey bees on product labels and on its website, the ACCC found, when in fact it was mainly comprised of sugars from plants including corn and sugar cane. And while consumers could have thought, due to the product’s name, that it was from Victoria, Australia, it was actually a product of Turkey.
Basfoods stung by $30,000 fine
Basfoods has provided an enforceable undertaking to the ACCC admitting that its conduct contravened the ACL and paying $30,600 in penalties for three infringement notices. The company has promised to only label its products as honey if they are entirely produced by honey bees, and to regularly test its products. Basfoods will also publish a range of corrective notices.
“It is difficult for consumers to test claims by traders that a certain product is actually “honey” or is from a certain place of origin,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“False claims of this kind not only mislead consumers but can also disadvantage competing honey suppliers, particularly those who source honey locally within Australia.”
“Honey suppliers should now be on notice that they must have a basis for selling a product as ‘honey’, which likely should include tests to confirm the product is in fact honey produced entirely by honey bees. The ACCC is aware of concerns in relation to other suppliers and products labelled as honey and will pursue these further with the benefit of the outcome in this matter,” Mr Sims said.
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council raised issues earlier this year
The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council reported on the fake honey in their May 2014 newsletter, and reportedly contacted state health departments and the ACCC to complain about several syrup products they claimed were masquerading as honey.
“Remember that ad which said “oils ain’t oils”. Well we have several cases in Australia where honey is not honey,” the industry magazine stated. “We now have three different labelled products [for] which we have complained about the labelling in the first place and then, after having analysis of the product conducted by a world renowned laboratory in Germany, we find it is not honey but most likely corn syrup.”
Where was “Victoria Honey” sold?
The faux-honey syrup was supplied at independent supermarkets, specialty retailers, online stores, delis, restaurants and cafes, and via the Basfoods website in one- and four-kilogram containers from around January 2006 to 6 December 2013.