Another New Zealand export product has hit another hurdle. The British Food Standards Authority (FSA) has issued a nationwide warning, saying that the manuka honey exported by the Kiwis is not what it claims to be.
The New Zealand manuka honey is at the centre of an international food fraud investigation after the UK FSA has issued a nationwide alert, asking regulators watch out for honey labelled as manuka but is actually derviced from other sources.
Manuka honey is a monofloral honey produced from the nectar of the manuka tree, and is predominantly found exported by New Zealand and Australia. It is said that it has unique anti-bacterial properties that aid medicinally. Although there’s no conclusive evidence of its medicinal benefits, it is being sold at a premium after endorsements from several celebrities, including tennis star Novak Djokovic, who claimed the wonders of manuka honey from New Zealand have helped him get physically better.
According to The Sunday Times, manuka honey is sold up to 45 pounds or around 90 NZD for a 500g jar in the UK, which is 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey.
The tests carried out by the UK environment and food ministry, however, suggested that the manuka honey is not that much different from ordinary ones. Many manuka honey products that have been imported by the UK have none of the claimed active properties of a real manuka honey. Some products aren’t even manuka honey at all.
The research made by the main honey producers’ organisation in New Zealand had revealed that 1700 tons of manuka were produced each year, but there are an estimated 1800 tons of alleged manuka honey sold in the UK.
Simple math revealed that it’s just not adding up right.
“As much as 10,000 tons are sold worldwide, suggesting widespread fraud,” the UK paper reads.
The FSA is asking all trading standard authorities to “make sure anyone selling manuka honey is aware that they must fully comply with the law.”
In a statement obtained by Fairfax NZ News, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said that it was aware of a “variety of claims about manuka honey and is actively working with industry to resolve any issues and provide clarity for producers and consumers.
“As part of this process, MPI is currently working with industry representatives and NZTE to develop guidance that addresses labelling of manuka honey.”
The UK warning on Kiwi manuka honey products follows the botulism scare that affected the country’s dairy products earlier August.
This isn’t the first time manuka honey from New Zealand has been subjected to investigation in the UK.
In 2011, the Food and Environment Research Agency in Britain tested a small sample of five brands of manuka honey from Kiwi manufacturers, and only one passed standards. That one was made by Comvita, New Zealand’s biggest manuka honey producer.
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