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Working Together Is Key For Bee Keeping Industry

Bee Products Standards Council
Media Release

29 April 2008

Working Together Is Key For Bee Keeping Industry

“Now that we have an understanding of the extent of the toxic honey problem, we’re working together to prevent it happening again.”

That’s the message from Dr Jim Edwards, Bee Products Standards Council chairman, following the release of test results by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) yesterday, which confirmed that the tutu toxins were present in honey comb from a Coromandel Peninsula apiary.

Dr Edwards says the beekeeping industry held a key meeting earlier this month, and the Council is meeting next month, to look at changes to quality assurance processes.

“The Bee Products Standards Council is committed to working with NZFSA to ensure that measures are taken to protect consumers ahead of next summer’s honey harvest,” he says.

Test results from the isolated case - a single apiary in the Coromandel - showed that honey comb contained high levels of both tutin and its derivative hyenanchin.

Although the occurrence of poisoning by tutin-affected honey is extremely rare, Dr Edwards says that 2008 became a high-risk season because of widespread drought.

The NZFSA is continuing to sample and test honey in areas where low levels of hyenanchin have been detected, checking beekeepers’ harvest records and late season samples, but as yet no evidence of toxic levels has been found.

Dr Edwards says this can be attributed to the rigorous procedures that industry already has in place to ensure tutin-affected honey is not collected and sold.

“There are over 342,000 registered hives in the country, producing almost 10,000 tonnes of honey each year,” Dr Edwards says.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to ensure that domestic and international food safety standards are maintained.”


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