A jar of own-brand honey from Tesco has been discovered to be “bulked out with sugar”, according to investigators.
The £1.35 product from supermarket chain has become the subject of a national inquiry, report The Sunday Times.
Trading standards officers claim that tests show it had been adulterated with cheap syrups made from ordinary sugar.
The National Food Crime Unit - which was set up after horsemeat was found in burgers and ready meals in 2014 - is now looking into the findings.
Professor Chris Elliott, who led the horsemeat investigation, told the paper the supermarket should “act fast and take it [the honey] off the shelves”.
Concerns over the authenticity of ‘Tesco Set Honey 454g’ were raised following tests conducted in a laboratory in Richmond in southwest London.
“The findings of the analysis is that there is likely to be adulteration with non-natural products,” said a spokesperson for Richmond council.
“This could indicate a more widespread issue with adulteration of honey. The results have been passed to the Food Standards Agency and the National Food Crime Unit to follow up with Tesco.
The supermarket has temporarily removed the honey while this matter is being investigated.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “Tesco brand honey is 100% pure, natural and can be directly traced back to the beekeeper. We carry out regular tests to ensure our honey meets this standard and is fully compliant with all legal requirements.
We have not been made aware of any investigation by the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit and we understand that the Local Authority is also not conducting any investigation.
However, as a precautionary measure, we have temporarily withdrawn the product to conduct further tests.”
The UK imports 90 per cent of the 24,000 tons of honey sold in the country annually, with much coming from China.
There have been concerns that a lot of honey is being adulterated, since sugars can now be easily transformed into syrup which is then coloured and flavoured pass to pass off as the real deal.
This would mean the ‘honey’ wouldn’t have the same health benefits as a natural sweetener for which it is revered.
These include bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants, which research has found can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.