Clarifying a sticky situation

THE recent airing discussing honey adulteration on Carte Blanche has caused both concern and confusion amongst many South African consumers.

Husband and wife team Rob and Liz Beach, owners of Hilton Honey Farms, explain that there has been consumer confusion regarding C3 and C4 sugars found in honey.

“Honey consists of C3 and C4 sugars and a variety of minerals, vitamins, pollen and wax. There is a natural blend of C3 and C4 sugars in all honey, especially from KZN where sugar cane is grown. Fynbos honey and the famous Manuka honey from New Zealand contain high levels of C4 sugars. Honey collected from flowers produces C3 sugars and honey collected from grasses like sugar cane and Paspalum produces C4 sugars. There are no laws in South Africa regarding levels of these sugars and this can only be tested overseas,” explains Rob.

In the Carte Blanche segment it was alleged that Hilton Honey Farms add sugar to their honey resulting in an elevated C4 sugar reading.

“Hilton Honey Farms has supplied a good product to KZN for the past 35 years and would never intentionally do anything to jeopardise our products. We purchase as much locally produced honey as possible from local beekeepers and blend it into our other honeys which we import from reputable suppliers.

It maintains a flavour, body, aroma and rich colour to which our local customers are accustomed and enjoy.”

“The test results that were given to us by Carte Blanche included several discrepancies. There was no name on the document relating the sample to me or my company and it stated that the sample tested was not sealed. I was not aware of my product ever being tested and in order to look into this, I need to know where the alleged sample came from,” says Rob.

To date neither SABIO (the South African Bee Industry Organisation) nor Carte Blanche have been able to supply Hilton Honey Farms with the batch number or sample of the honey allegedly tested.

“This is a serious allegation which we are urgently trying to get to the bottom of.”

Following the allegations Hilton Honey Farms made a decision, as a precautionary measure and out of respect for their customers, to conduct a voluntary recall of their honey for testing to ensure that it is compliant.

“We received the test results back on August 7 and can confirm that the independent results verify that our honey adheres to the regulations that govern honey in South Africa,” explains Liz.

Hilton Honey Farms will continue to conduct ongoing independent testing going forward and are also in the process of becoming HACCAP compliant and accredited.

During the Carte Blanche interview, Devi Sankaree Govender pointed out that the Hilton Honey Farms labelling needed to include the origin of all the honeys processed. “We have since updated all our labelling accordingly,” says Rob.

“We are firmly against any form of honey adulteration and as a small, family-run business we will endeavor to do everything we can to restore the integrity of the honey industry.”

— Supplied.