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Media statement: The safety of Australian honey

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is aware of media articles questioning the safety of Australian honey.

Australia takes food safety very seriously and has a long history of producing high-quality, clean and safe food products. Australian honey, in particular, has an established record of meeting or exceeding all relevant domestic food safety standards.

All food sold in Australia, whether imported or domestic, must meet the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Under the National Residue Survey (NRS), honey produced in Australia is subjected to surveillance testing for agricultural veterinary chemicals and contaminants.   Last year, the NRS analysed honey samples from around Australia for antibiotics, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, metals and environmental contaminants. The overall compliance with Australian Standards was 97.6 per cent.

Australian laws require that imported honey meets the same safety standards as locally produced honey. It must comply with both the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Imported Food Control Act 1992, and not pose a risk to human health.

Under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, imported honey is subject to surveillance inspection at the rate of five per cent of consignments; however, this rate increases to 100 per cent if the imported product fails inspection.

At inspection a visual and label assessment is completed, with samples taken for laboratory analysis. These samples are used to test for evidence of substitution with C4 sugars (sugar cane or corn syrup) to ensure honey entering Australia is compliant with the honey standard in the code.

Until late 2015, samples of imported honey were tested for antibiotics; however, due to high levels of compliance over the past ten years this testing ceased. All results from import compliance testing are publically available on the department’s website.

When it comes to exports, Australian honey processors must also comply with any conditions set by the importing country.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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