Saturday, April 13, 2024

No change to mānuka honey definition

New Zealand’s regulatory definition of mānuka honey – first introduced in 2018 – has been validated following a robust scientific reassessment, and will not be changed, says New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general, Vincent Arbuckle.

Mr Arbuckle said all mānuka honey exported from New Zealand must be in line with the definition so that importing countries and consumers can be sure it is genuine.

“While most in the industry are happy with the definition as it stands, some have raised concerns that it does not appropriately account for natural regional variations of honey,” he said.

“There was also industry interest in issues related to the chemical and genetic components that formed the definition.

“New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) entered the scientific review process with an open mind about the possibility of change, and carefully examined the claims in turn. We found no good evidence to support a change.”

The definition was the first of its kind in the world, developed over three years, with input from experts as well as extensive consultation.

The review process began in 2020 and involved a ‘call for data’ and submissions from industry. These submissions were analysed by NZFS experts. NZFS’ findings on the submissions were reviewed by independent panels comprised of 10 experts on mānuka honey, plant science, Māori research, and statistics.

“It was important we got this right,” says Mr Arbuckle. “The definition provides transparency for our trading partners and consumers and supports our reputation as a responsible trading nation.

“To be effective, the definition must be based on the best available scientific evidence that has been confirmed by a thorough peer-review process.

“Following this robust reassessment process, we can reiterate with confidence that mānuka honey exported from New Zealand is authentic,” he said.

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