FSA orders crackdown on ‘fake’ manuka honey

Trading Standards officers have been told by the Food Standards Agency to crack down on companies selling ‘fake’ manuka honey.

The move comes after recent tests by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) showed 11 out of 23 manuka honey brands on sale in Britain tested failed to demonstrate non-peroxide (UMF) activity, the standard scientific indicator of true manuka honey.

John Rawcliffe of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), which represents New Zealand’s producers, said: “There is potentially huge fraud. There are higher and ever-increasing volumes of honey labelled as manuka that are not manuka. More manuka is sold in the UK alone than the total actually produced.”

FERA also highlighted the “confusing” labelling of honey products – particularly use of the term ‘Active’. This has prompted calls from UMFHA members for a tightening of labelling standards.

Comvita, one of the brands whose products were shown by FERA tests to be ‘true to label’, is working with UMFHA to resolve the long-running UMF versus ‘Active’ issue.

Comments Comvita CEO Brett Hewlett: “Calling a product ‘Active’ does not inform the consumer about the type of honey or its respective benefits. For example, it is possible to purchase brown honey, pack it in a jar, put an ‘Active’ label on it and pass it off as Manuka honey.”

Hewlett continues: “Use of the UMF trademark is open to all New Zealand based marketers, if they meet the standard, so if the companies are not licensees, consumers should wonder why.”