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Manuka Health reassures export markets about honey

30 March 2008

Manuka Health reassures export markets it has no links to Coromandel honey poisonings Honey health science company Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd has moved quickly to reassure export markets in the wake of a rash of honey poisoning cases involving a Coromandel hobbyist beekeeper unconnected with the company.

Manuka Health chief executive Kerry Paul said he had reassured European distributors who had called him after seeing the poisoning story on a New Zealand media website. Markets in North America and Asia had also been advised.

“I was able to tell them our honey is in no way connected with the poisonings.”

“The manuka honey harvesting season was completed more than a month before the poisoning cases started, we are not involved in selling comb honey, and we don’t deal with the beekeeper concerned.”

Manuka Health’s antibacterial product range is based on honey which originates only from manuka plants, which gives it properties not present in other honeys.

The company earlier this year launched the first products certified to contain specified levels of the antibacterial ingredient — following the discovery by a German university scientist that the natural compound methylglyoxal is responsible for manuka honey’s unique properties.

MGO™ manuka honey produced by Manuka Health is in strong demand in Europe, North America and Asia. New Zealand earned $56 million from honey exports last year.

Manuka Health’s product range includes honeys with certified methylglyoxal levels from 100 to 700 mg/kg. Mr Paul said that in order to achieve high levels of the active ingredient, beekeepers had to supply pure manuka honey uncontaminated with honey from other sources.

At least 10 people became seriously ill last month after eating comb honey from Whangamata-based Projen Apiaries was sold at Coromandel outlets.

The honey was produced by bees feeding on honeydew containing toxins from native tutu bushes. Normally, beekeepers avoid siting hives in tutu areas during the bush’s flowering season and ensure any poison honey which is gathered is destroyed. Bees are unaffected by the tutu toxin.


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