Controversy continues over the purity of honey, with new reports emerging that question the motives of the horticulturalist who funded the testing.
Horticulturalist Robert Costa reportedly says the only reason he commissioned controversial testing of honey purity was to protect the Australian industry.
His funding of recent nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) tests conducted in a German lab revealed impurities in Capilano Honey's Allowrie-branded Mixed Blossom Honey, which is a mix of Australian and Chinese honey.
Robert Costa commissioned a law firm to conduct two types of sampling tests on honey. One detection test for impurities used NMR while other test used the official C4 sugar test.
However media reports have pointed to a link between Costa and Bega Cheese, the food company which now holds about 8.4 per cent of honey giant Capilano. Costa reportedly stressed, however, that when the tests were done he had no idea about any potential bid for Capilano.
Bega is seen as a potential rival bidder to a $200 million private equity proposal to take the ASX-listed Capilano private.
Distancing himself from any connection between himself and leading businessman Peter Margin, who is on the board of both Costa Group and Bega Cheese, Robert Costa told Fairfax Media, "I'm only interested in imported honey and cleaning it up."
"When I did the tests I had no idea there were any bids. I only heard about the private equity bid after it was announced and I had no clue about Bega," he said.
After sitting on the Costa Group board until 2015, Costa resigned, effective on the same day Margin joined the Costa Group board.
"I've only met him the once, at the (Costa) AGM in front of a whole room full of people, and that was the extent of the conversation," Costa said.
When Mr Costa's honey adulteration tests were made public, Australian honey giant, Capilano voiced criticism of the test results using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and expressed full confidence that its Allowrie honey brand contains only pure honey.
In light of the inconsistent test results, Capilano is also calling on the industry “to prove up the NMR test so that it matches the robustness of results from other testing currently relied on internationally”.
The heart of discussions involves testing methods. Australia officially uses the C4 sugar test which is said to be the test used by international regulatory authorities.
Costa said the results of the honey tests have been passed onto representatives from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.