Friday 15 December 2017

New tests on honey ​sold by couple in suicide pact

Julia Holmes and her partner Tom Ruttle
Julia Holmes and her partner Tom Ruttle
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

The Blás Irish Food Awards organisation is testing the award-winning honey produced by two of last year's winners who were both found dead.

Convicted fraudster Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56) were last week found dead in their Limerick farmhouse in what gardaí are investigating as a possible suicide pact.

The couple had picked up a prestigious Blás award in 2014 for their Irish Bee Sensations Honey which was labelled as "local Irish heather honey".

It later transpired Ms Holmes was merely selling supermarket honey repackaged as an Irish premium product.

It was just the latest scam for a woman who had previously been jailed in the US for fraud and who was wanted in Northern Ireland.

It has emerged fresh tests are underway on the Bee Sensations honey. Irish Food Awards said it was having pollen analysis tests carried out "to determine the botanical and geographical origin by microscopy".

The honey had been labelled with the Federations of Irish Beekeepers seal.

"The labelling scheme is confined to FIBKA members who pack only Irish honey and whose names and addresses appear on the honey jar," Irish Food Awards said.


It said it had sourced a second sample of the Bee Sensations product, which had been supplied to a retailer months after the award had been presented last October.

It expects to have the results of the laboratory tests within 10 working days.

It came as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney yesterday launched the 2015 Blás awards for the top Irish artisan food products.

The awards carry great prestige and winning produce is used as a quality benchmark for Irish products amongst national and international retailers, buyers and distributors alike.

Irish Independent

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