Manuka identity data to be released

The Ministry of Primary Industries plans to release the scientific identifiers it is consider to describe the unique properties of New Zealand’s Manuka honey. Photo: Comvita

The scientific identifiers the Ministry of Primary Industries is considering using to describe the unique properties of New Zealand's Manuka honey will be released to the industry, with the consultation period extended.

The MPI is working on a scientific definition for NZ Manuka honey to prevent fraud on international markets.

Because the medically active honey sells at a premium, other honey producers have been claiming their product is Manuka honey and New Zealand exporters have been unable to immediately prove the claims are fraudulent.

“Our initial release for consultation was of a summary science report that explained the science and the scientific process we carried out over the three years to arrive at the definition,” says deputy director-general Bryan Wilson.

“However, stakeholders want to delve deeper and review the data. We are now making the data related to honey samples, nectar samples and marker stability available.”

The proposed definition uses five attributes, four chemicals and a DNA marker that, when present in honey at specified levels, provides clear evidence that the honey is New Zealand Manuka honey.

“It is important we listen to feedback from our stakeholders and provide them with the information they require to have their say on these proposals, and we welcome submissions based on the additional release of scientific data.”

MPI has extended its consultation on a scientific definition to authenticate New Zealand Manuka honey and the proposed new requirements for the export of bee products to June 13, 2017.

“Consultation has been running for five weeks and was due to close on Tuesday, May 23, but following feedback from stakeholders during this time we have decided to release all of our scientific data.”

MPI will hold an extra public meeting in Wellington to give stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions. Details will be posted on the MPI consultation page.

The extension to the consultation period will mean the new export requirements – including the definition – are proposed to come into effect on August 21.

MPI is still working through a process to ensure the data is in a usable format and meets privacy, commercial, and confidence requirements. The data is expected to be available by May 25.

A Manuka Honey Science Programme to develop criteria for identifying Manuka honey from New Zealand ran from 2014-16.  The programme involved contracting experts to contribute to the research and analysis.

Collecting over 800 honey samples, representing over 20 different honey types, along with honey samples from 16 different countries identifying attributes found in the Manuka plant that flow through to the honey.

Developing and validating test methods to make sure we can reliably and accurately test for attributes statistical analyses to determine the identification criteria for monofloral or multifloral manuka honey.

Paengaroa based Manuka honey products producer Comvita's technical manager Tony Wright says it's a good thing.

“The more information we have to consider the better our submissions will be,” says Tony.


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