Perth based honey packer – Australian Honey Ventures – once again has its hand out to investors with a crowd-funding campaign looking to raise at least $1million.
Earlier campaigns raised more than $2million but it appears most, if not all of that has been spent on a new honey packing shed, bottling equipment and honey stocks.
Money raised in this latest campaign will mainly be used mainly for advertising and marketing, but some is also to be used in the development of new honey products for pharmacies.
Company founder and CEO Jay Curtin has put these new product developments at the centre of her pitch to investors and certainly her claims about them are sensational.
Curtin is spruiking Western Australian honeys as a cure for common vaginal infections including thrush and bacterial vaginosis.
“We’re working on two exciting new products – honey pessaries and creams to eliminate bacterial vaginosis and thrush in women.” See http://youtu.be/qGjomf6yv10?t=32
The claims for honey-based cures are based on laboratory studies suggesting that honeys with naturally high-levels of hydrogen peroxide can kill bacteria associated with vaginal infections and fungal skin diseases such as tinea.
Honey derived from certain eucalypts native to Western Australia such as Jarrah and Karri have long been known to have typically high levels of hydrogen peroxide immediately after harvesting.
And recently a number of Western Australian based honey marketers have taken to labelling their honeys with a Total Activity (i.e TA) rating.
The rating shows the phenol (i.e. bleach) equivalent of the honeys in laboratory testing. (So, for example, a 35+ rating indicates the honey kills bacteria at the same level as a 35% bleach solution.)
In that respect the TA ratings are superficially similar to the proprietary UMF rating system developed for Manuka honey in New Zealand.
However the UMF system is fundamentally different because it deliberately excludes any peroxide based anti-bacterial capability from its test results. 1
(This is achieved by adding a peroxide destroying catalase being added to the test honey sample.)
The reason peroxide is excluded is not because, as Jay Curtin claims, Hydrogen Peroxide is not found in Manuka or other honeys, but rather because the peroxide found in all honeys is thought to dissipate quite quickly as soon as honey is exposed to the atmosphere.
As a seminal 2006 scientific study of Australian honeys reported, “Testing over time found the hydrogen peroxide-dependent activity in honey decreased, in some cases by 100%...” 2
So whilst there may be some honeys (e.g. Jarrah) with a naturally lower glucose fraction whose peroxide component lives on for a time, for most honeys TA probably measures only a relatively short-term anti-bacterial capability.
More scientific study is certainly needed to establish the longevity of hydrogen peroxide in Australian honeys.
And Australian honey lovers everywhere would welcome a firm finding that local honeys have a natural ongoing anti-bacterial and anti-microbial capability. After all that could see honeys replacing anti-biotics, many of which are suffering from reduced effectiveness as bacteria develop resistance.
But in the meantime, touting any honeys as a cure for thrush or bacterial vaginosis is extremely controversial and may well attract adverse attention from Australia’s official drug regulator - the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
On the positive side of the Australian Honey Ventures story, the company has already achieved some commercial success with Woolworths stores in Western Australia now stocking its eucalyptus and wildflower honeys under the Real Good Honey brand.
And marketing efforts in the Middle East are also paying off with some of its honeys labelled with high TA numbers now being sold in pharmacies there at retail prices comparable with Manuka honeys.
Along with all the publicity around Curtin’s sensational claims, early indications are that the company will succeed with its latest capital raising.
For more information go to:
1, That is why some Manuka honey marketers, (and particularly those who have declined to pay the fees demanded by the New Zealand owners of the UMF trademark), use the acronym NPA or Non-Peroxide Activity for their label rating.
2, The Antibacterial Activity of Honey Derived From Australian Flora