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Credibility key for Manuka exports

17 July 2013

Credibility key for Manuka exports

Federated Farmers is encouraging Manuka honey exporters to test their product prior to export following the identification of C4 sugar, by the Consumer Council of Hong Kong.

“Federated Farmers, with others in the Bee products industry have been concerned about the identification of C4 sugar in Manuka honey, and testing methods for some time,” says Bees Committee of Management Member, Peter Bell.

“Manuka honey is different to other honeys; it causes a standard sugar test to inaccurately report contaminated samples. This is why the industry has invested money and effort to work with, Dr Karyne Rogers of GNS Science, to evaluate the conventional test that has been used to date, for accuracy with regard to Manuka honey.

“This process has led to GNS Science developing a test, which is now accepted by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) as suitably identifying C4 sugar contamination in honey.

“Results reported by GNS Science, that tested samples, returned only a six percent fail rate compared to 30 percent under the existing testing methods.

“We are concerned about the damage to our industry’s reputation from the few occasions where C4 sugars have been identified. Feeding sugar to bees is a common practice during periods of low floral resources, to build them up in preparation for honey flow. However, when using best practice for this method, there should be no contamination issue.

“We would encourage regulators and consumer organisations to use the newly developed GNS test when testing imported Manuka samples or to have any failed Manuka samples evaluated against the more contemporary test.

“What has become clear is that a significant number of unadulterated Manuka honey samples have returned positive tests due to older testing methods. This is unfortunate for those beekeepers that have not fed sugar to their bees or have used robust practices to avoid any contamination.

“Given the issues with the testing process, we are encouraging regulators to develop their testing methods in line with new information” Mr Bell concluded.

ends

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