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

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read