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Asia Pacific: Victoria Honey producer fined US$29,000 for product, origin misrepresentation on labels

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued three infringement notices to Basfoods (Aust) Pty Ltd for the sale of “Victoria Honey”.

The company paid penalties totaling AUD$30,600 (US$28,812.43) for misrepresenting its “Victoria Honey” as honey produced by honey bees on product labelling and on its website, when ACCC finds the product was mainly comprised of sugars from plants including corn and sugar cane.

In addition, the ACCC also considered that by naming and labelling its product “Victoria Honey”, Basfoods had represented the product as originating from Victoria, Australia when in fact it was a product of Turkey.

The three infringement notices were issued to Basfoods because the ACCC had reasonable grounds to believe that the labelling of ”Victoria Honey” and Basfoods’ website contained false or misleading representations about the composition and place of origin of ”Victoria Honey”, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Basfoods has provided an enforceable undertaking to the ACCC in which it has admitted that its conduct contravened the ACL.

The company has undertaken to only sell product as honey if it is entirely produced by honey bees, and to regularly test its products, including honey.

It will also publish a range of corrective notices.

Protecting consumers

“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.”

Basfoods is an Australian company that supplies Mediterranean and Turkish food products.

It supplied “Victoria Honey” to independent supermarkets, specialty retailers, online stores, delis, restaurants and cafes, as well as its retail stores and website.