Finalization of the New Zealand Government’s proposed Manuka honey test has been deferred yet again.
The test was meant to be finalised earlier this year, after a round of consultations with the local honey industry.
But then early testing revealed that honey from some Manuka producers was failing the test.
With the producers adamant their honey was indeed Manuka honey, the government was forced to abandon its initial plans.
Instead the Ministry of Primary Industry announced a new round of industry and public consultations.
According to the statement released by the government earlier this month ( July 6th), around 120 formal submissions have been received.
Director of the Ministry’s systems audit, assurance and monitoring, Allan Kinsella said that the government had decided it needs a further 6 to 8 weeks to properly evaluate the submissions.
“The process is too important to rush because our reputation for honey production and export rests on the integrity of our products and the credibility of our systems ” he said.
"We need to make sure that the final requirements are robust and accurate so that overseas regulators have confidence in the assurances we give them about New Zealand mānuka honey, and that consumers in those countries can be confident in the products they are purchasing."
The governments proposed standard for Manuka honey is outlined on the Ministry’s web site and is said to reflect 3 years of scientific research and development.
The standard has two components, the first of which is a test for the presence of four different chemicals at minimum specified levels as follows:
-phenyllactic acid at a level greater than or equal to 400 mg/kg
-methoxyacetophenone at a level greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg
-methoxybenzoic acid at a level greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg
-hydroxyphenyllactic acid at a level greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg
A second component of the standard is a DNA test for Manuka pollen. The DNA levels required to prove it is Manuka honey is “less than Cq 36, which is approximately 3 fg/µL”.
Honey must pass both the DNA and chemical test components to be considered Manuka honey.
However it may still be called Multifloral (i.e. blended) Manuka honey if it meets all the other tests but only has phenyllactic acid levels between 20mg and 400mg per kg.
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