SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food Safety & Quality Control

New Zealand

‘New guidelines could apply to other honeys, not just manuka’

Post a commentBy RJ Whitehead , 05-Aug-2014

‘New guidelines could apply to other honeys, not just manuka’

The manuka honey labelling guidelines released last week by the New Zealand government are not accurate, the country’s oldest producer has argued.

According to Airborne Honey, the Ministry of Primary Industry’s interim labelling guide needs to become closer aligned to the Codex international standard for honey if the government’s aim is to regulate the industry and restore global trust.

Codex has a better idea

The Codex Commission is a standards group run by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. According to Codex, honey may be designated according to a floral or plant source if it comes wholly or mainly from that particular source, and has the organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties corresponding with that origin.

This means manuka must taste like manuka, have a sugar spectrum, mineral levels and pollen content consistent with manuka, and be undamaged by heat levels below 40mg/kg,” explained Peter Bray, Airborne’s managing director. 

Based on longstanding research the product should contain in excess of 70% manuka pollen to be classified as manuka honey.”

Although the ministry’s guidelines refer to some elements consistent with Codex, the guideline's requirement for the presence of manuka-type pollen fails to meet its requirement for "microscopic properties corresponding with that origin", the most important identification tool in the standard. 

The presence of methylglyoxal (MG), a single, unstable chemical marker not required by the international standard, has also been included. 

MG has been included after extensive lobbying by those that only measure this chemical,” continued Bray. 

Other countries already applying the Codex to manuka honey do not use MG for good reason. It forms from another precursor substance [dihydroxyacetone] that varies widely in manuka nectar, changes at different rates over time and eventually disappears.”

Not just manuka

Current research show that high levels of MG can be found in natural or manmade blends containing less than 20% pure manuka honey. Moreover, MG can be found in other plant species, meaning it is not unique to manuka and the precursor in manuka nectar is a readily available pharmaceutical ingredient used as the key active ingredient in sunless tanning products.

The Interim labelling guide for manuka honey as it currently stands will not provide consumers or overseas regulators with the assurance that a honey is ‘wholly or mainly’ manuka—thy key phrase in the Codex honey standard, the EU honey directive and the UK honey standards.”

Airborne Honey said it will continue to adhere to the Codex standard and hopes that the interim guidelines will be aligned closer to the already established and globally recognised standard.

It was always going to be a challenge, with so many opinions and different interests involved,” said Bray. “With exports growing from NZ$11m [US$9.3m] in 2000 to NZ$170m last year—and on track to NZ$200m this year—it is clear there are significant financial drivers to the process

We hope that as the interim guide is reviewed over the coming months, it will become more robust and increasingly reflect the proven parameters in the international standard for honey.”

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...