Peter Awram with Worker Bee Honey Company shows agriculture minister Lana Popham how their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine works to detect fraudulent honey. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

WATCH: Cutting-edge B.C. lab opens to detect fake honey

The lab uses nuclear magnetic resonance to pinpoint the floral and geographic sources of honey samples

Fraudulent honey-makers who try to hit the Canadian marketplace with adulterated honey products are in for big surprise.

A new cutting-edge laboratory to detect fake honey — the first in Canada — was opened by the Worker Bee Honey Company of Chilliwack.

“Our new lab is a response to honey adulteration, a worldwide problem which is growing larger,” said Peter Awram of the Worker Bee Honey.

To make the product cheaper to produce, fraudsters add rice syrup or corn syrup to the honey.

“Adulteration is a threat to the reputation of Canadian honey and to Canadian beekeepers,” Awram noted.

The lab will be able to detect adulterated honey using a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine.

NMR technology analyzes the entire spectrum of a honey sample, generating an organic chemical “fingerprint” which can be tracked on a database that Awram is building with samples from every honey-producer in the province.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the lab will make B.C. a “very sought-after region” for sourcing honey, especially for those who “believe in authenticity,” as well as truth in labelling.

The ag minister said she is personally passionate about bees, and said one of the nicknames from the legislature she is most proud of is “The Bee Lady.”

“Fraud with the honey market is huge,” Minister Popham told the small crowd, “and I am a huge believer in truth in labelling.”

It’s the public trust that’s at stake. So if beekeepers and honey producers want to use the ‘Buy B.C.’ logo in future, the lab testing could serve as verification that the product is in fact B.C. honey, she said.

“This is going to resonate with consumers,” Popham said.

Awram said he started down “this strange path” to honey testing after learning that about 40 per cent of what is sold as honey is something else.

“It’s the only one in Canada,” Awram said about the NMR machine, and only one of two in North America.

He hopes it will act as a deterrent to prevent honey fraud in B.C.

READ MORE: Dramatic drop in honey crop

The same machine, which is similar to an MRI machine, can be seen in the hot Netflix documentary series Rotten, which unpacks the devastating effects of the contaminated honey flooding the marketplace. There are maybe a dozen such labs testing honey and other foodstuffs worldwide.

The problem with keeping the honey products pure and unadulterated is that prior to the emergence of NMR technology, the fraudsters managed to find ways of circumventing the tests with increasingly sophisticated methods of altering the syrups to pass as authentic honey.

The new Chilliwack lab will be able to detect the contaminants, source the floral and geographic origins of the honey, and will also flag the absence of normal honey components in fraudulent products.

Worker Bee is a family-run farm business by Jerry, Peter, and Pia Awram, with about 6,000 bee hives. The Worker Bee Honey Co. purchased the NMR machine, and a grant of $175,000 from the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. will allow them to collect honey samples, test them and create a data base of all the samples.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Peter Awram with Worker Bee Honey Company shows agriculture minister Lana Popham results from a sample of honey that was put through their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Kyle Rollheiser with Worker Bee Honey Company talks about the results of honey samples that were put through their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Agriculture minister Lana Popham speaks during an open house at Worker Bee Honey Company where people were shown their new nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine that works to detect fraudulent honey. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Peter Awram with Worker Bee Honey Company shows visitors how their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine works to detect fraudulent honey. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Hundreds demonstrate in Abbotsford for end to racism

Protest in city’s historic downtown was largest demonstration in recent memory

Mission School District’s 2020 graduation ceremony plans now in place

June grad for École Mission Senior Secondary, Fraserview Learning Centre, Riverside College

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

VIDEO: Homeless person struck by freight train in Abbotsford

Victim required airlift to hospital, Maclure Road shut down for hours

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

Most Read