That’s sure got to sting!
What’s all the buzz about?
Drama in Australian supermarket honey!
It has just been found by the German company ‘Quality Services International (QSI) that 12 out of 28 honeys from Capilano (Allowrie), IGA and GOLD and ALDI were adulterated!
These adulterated honeys could have been mixed with sweeteners like sugar, rice and beet syrups.
The sweet chemistry of honey
Honey has incredibly interesting chemistry! Bees are the chemists of the natural world, converting the nectar of flowers into gooey honey.
Honey is mostly composed of the sugars glucose and fructose (with other things like amino acids, vitamins and organic acids). There is very little water present, making honey an incredibly concentrated solution of sugar, known as supersaturation. It is why honey eventually crystallises; the sugar molecules just want to solidify.
The flower from which the bees collect the nectar dictates the colour, taste and texture of the honey (try Tasmanian leatherwood honey for something different).
NMR; chemistry super tool and honey detective
NMR is to the chemist what a microscope is to a biologist. It is probably the most frequently used instrument by a synthetic chemist, used to test if the chemicals they made is the right stuff.
On the day of writing, I used NMR three times (and I consider myself an infrequent user).
NMR is so popular because it’s relatively easy to perform and gives you very accurate information about the shapes and structures of molecules too tiny to see. It can also detect tiny amounts of sample.
So, how did NMR show that these honeys were adulterated? Well, it comes back to what is in honey.
The sugar makeup in honey is drastically different to the sugars in syrups. NMR can differentiate between the sugars in honey and the sugars in syrup. It can tell us if anything has been added to the honey. NMR can even show where the honey comes from!
NMR essentially gives a fingerprint of the honey.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is considering a move toward NMR because of its high precision.
Capilano has strongly denied issues with their honey. Capilano has rejected NMR as the superior test, claiming that NMR is a ‘weak’ analytical method. This made me chuckle, as I am sure it would for any chemist. Most chemists would claim NMR to be the most superior technique in analysing chemicals.
What honey should you buy?
Otherwise, ditch supermarket honey (and large chain honey brands) and buy from a local beekeeper. Or, come to the shop I work at and I will be more than happy to show you what really different and special honey can taste like (we have over 100 different honeys)!
Further reading if interested: