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Fake Manuka Honey trader’s second prosecution

Issued 2 November 2005/048


Fake Manuka Honey trader’s second prosecution

A trader has been convicted for a second time for falsely labelling honey as UMF or Active Manuka honey.

Tomorrow Dream Line Limited and Mr Jonathan Ken (also known as Sang Rae Kim) have been fined $15,400 for labelling and supplying Dream Line Souvenirs UMF20+ honey to a shop in Rotorua when Mr Ken knew the product was in fact ordinary honey.

UMF or Active Manuka Honey sells at a premium over ordinary Manuka Honey and can be up to 10 times the normal retail value of ordinary honey. UMF Manuka Honey is used in a number of medical applications, particularly the treatment of wounds and ulcers.

Tomorrow Dream Line and Mr Ken were originally prosecuted by the Commission in March 2005 for a similar offence. This prosecution is for further false labelling that occurred during the period Tomorrow Dream Line and Mr Ken were being prosecuted, but which did not come to light until after guilty pleas were entered.

The Commission had four samples of the honey independently tested, to compare the results with the representations of UMF activity levels made on the labels. The test results from the laboratory showed “non-detectable” levels of UMF activity in the honey samples.

“This is a particularly callous example of a trader taking advantage of both New Zealand consumers and tourists, who could not possibly know that the expensive honey they were purchasing was not in fact active manuka honey”, Director Fair Trading Deborah Battell said. “Traders should be assured – the Commission will exercise the full extent of its powers to test whether claims made about products are truthful.”

Background
The trademark “UMF”, together with a number (i.e. 10, 12, 16 etc) indicates the Unique Manuka Factor of certain types of Manuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium). UMF is a measure of the level of antibacterial activity of the honey (i.e. its natural antiseptic quality) and was developed by the Waikato University Honey Research Centre.

On average 120 tonnes of UMF or Active Manuka Honey is sold annually and the Active Manuka Honey Association has estimated that the UMF branding is worth $12 million annually. Honey exports exceeded $23 million in 2004 and bees and bee products earned another $3.7 million.

In the original prosecution brought by the Commission in March 2005, the parties were convicted and fined $20,000 for the company and $15,000 for Mr Ken.

ENDS

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