Fake honey is a sticky problem on our shelves

Tests by the South African Bee Industry Organisation have found a lot of honey on the market is in fact fake.

According to a report in TimesLIVE it isn’t just foreign honey either, but several local producers who have been caught out being a bit deceptive about the stuff.

Apparently one of the ways that the producers are cheating is by putting the label “Packed in South Africa” on the bottles. The honey may well be packed over here, but it often originally comes from China – which means it might have some honey in it if you’re lucky.

The TimesLIVE report quotes one of our local producers as saying that if you’re diabetic you can use a bit of honey whereas sugar isn’t going to do you any good. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no real difference, which makes sense considering sucrose is still sucrose whether it comes from sugar cane or nectar.

South Africa used to produce all of its own honey, and actually banned imports – but now about 70% of the honey on the market is imported, with a fair chunk of that coming from China.

My Take

This is one of the major weaknesses for any Libertarian economic view – that a lot of the time what is sold on the packet isn’t what’s actually in the packet.

The Libertarian view, with its emphasis on minimal regulation and the assumption that the market will just correct itself towards the best producers, has never really had an answer to this kind of fraud.

Apparently it takes a lot of work to figure out if the honey you’re buying is the real stuff, and equipment that we don’t even have in this country.

The best you can do right now to tell the difference is to make sure the jar says it was produced in South Africa, rather than just packed here.

According to a report on the Sunday Times‘ health page last year, South Africa has a rapidly growing rate of diabetes.

This isn’t the first time that fake products have hit our shelves. South Africa has its own award winning olive oil, and a few years back we got a whole lot of cheap imported stuff – that turned out to be fake.

We as a country maybe need to start considering upping our game when it comes to detecting this sort of thing. If we are going to talk about reforming our agriculture, the least we can do is ensure that our farmers, both new and old, are competing with real products, not fakes.

We should maybe buy the expensive equipment for doing the tests.

  • Picture of honey courtesy of ExlporeBob at Pixabay.
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