In a recent news story, Australia is caught with a fake honey scandal. There are a number of companies in the country claiming to sell pure honey have been condemned mixing in other types of sweeteners such as corn syrup.
Recently Australian media houses Fairfax and ABC media released a report about 28 honey brands that were tested by a German lab. Bremen-based Quality Services International was mandated by the media houses to identify the purity of the honey brands sold in many Australian stores.
With this, QSI tested the samples with the help of two different methods where the first was the standard C4 test. This method is used by the Australian authorities as well as in various jurisdictions to identify the purity of honey. This test can easily detect the addition of corn and cane syrups mixed in Honey.
While this test has been proved quite effective so far, it has now become somewhat superfluous as crooked vendors have found ways to bypass it. The director of Food Innovation at the University of Adelaide, Andrew Lowe elaborated the matter further by saying that: “The interesting thing with the current case is there has been a test underway to check if honey has been adulterated with sugar syrup from corn or sugarcane crops called the C4 test for at least a decade, [but] they’ve become more sophisticated and realized that corn and cane sugar can be detected, so they’re now mixing with syrup from other plants like rice, wheat, and beets that can’t be detected.”
As mistrust of the purity of the honey was out in the market, the media houses requested the lab to testify the samples using another method in place. In response, QSI used their proprietary testing method that can investigate impurities and able to go undetected under the C4 test. This specific test is called the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance test.
Amid this, the samples of honey used in the test were all able to clear the C4 test where Zero debasement was detected under the C4 test. But with the help of NMR, it became clear that most of the samples included some or other sweeteners to their product.
Besides this, the entire honey supply chain globally is affected by similar issues. Phil McCabe, the president of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association explains that this problem is so expanded and extensive that it has attracted the attention of Interpol.
He further elaborated the matter saying that: “Adulterated honey isn’t honey at all. By and large, the impurity is some kind of syrup that’s been converted to look like honey, it tastes like honey. Everything about it seems to be honey when in fact it’s just sugar syrup or something else. Consumers don’t realize what they are buying and eating isn’t honey. That’s why Interpol is interested.”
Let us not forget that the NMR test is one of the best examples through which humans can leverage technology to address their problems. With this, Lowe emphasized this fact by adding “This German company has developed the NMR test, which they say can distinguish sugars from these other plants. It’s a technology-driven response to the problem of increasing adulteration in honey, but other anti-fraud technologies could be used.”
There are numerous companies that are disinclined to provide this information. With the Blockchain technology in place, however, it can be used to address the existing challenges of the global food supply chain by some projects. For example, IBM and London-based startup Provenance have created a paradigm shift in this space. When it comes to discussing the honey supply chain issue, the blockchain technology is a highly applicable innovative application. According to Lowe, he said that it is best if the technology is used in combination with another tracking innovation in place.
He further believes that the “blockchain is fine for showing an unbroken chain of custody for a product along with a supply chain, revealing where something has been. But you want to use it with a tracer, which is something introduced like a protein that can be detected at low concentrations, or a biomarker of the product itself.”
Amid this one of the Israeli firm namely Security Matters has created a solution for Australia’s honey scandal that may use both blockchain technology and an innovative solution to track honey at the molecular level specifically. This mark can be visualized as a molecular barcode which is changeless. But because it cannot be deleted or edited at any cost, the barcode provides with one a high level of trust in the supply chain of whatever product has in place.
Additionally, in order to increase security measures, Security Matters will record and store all the details in a blockchain. This will make sure that every step in the supply chain of the honey is accessible and traceable. Further speaking to the matter, Haggai Alon, CEO of Security Matters elaborates that “Every part of the product in the chain will have been marked and verified by the time it reaches the end customer. This creates full liability to each of the individual players.”
When Australia’s honey scandal has sprawled its legs across continents, there is an urgent need for fair and transparent food tracking solutions in place. Of course, the blockchain may be the solution that this industry really requires today!!