Labelling options are outlined in a discussion paper, “Options for Defining Monofloral Manuka Honey”, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries today.
Chief Executive Officer Kerry Paul says the ministry’s proposals are a positive step towards a national standard, which will shore up the international reputation of New Zealand’s honey exports, now worth an estimated $120 million a year.
“Hopefully, this will stop honey mis-labelling, reduce confusion in the marketplace and return confidence to consumers,” he said.
The paper, open for public submissions until September 30, is the result of discussions with representatives of New Zealand’s honey industry.
It follows a warning last month by Britain’s Food Standards Agency in relation to misleading claims on some manuka honey jars.
The ministry’s paper outlines three options for defining New Zealand manuka honey, based on pollen count, methylglyoxal content, or a combination of both.
Methylglyoxal was identified in 2006 by Professor Thomas Henle, the head of the Institute of Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden, as the dominant, measurable ingredient responsible for manuka honey’s antibacterial activity.
Mr Paul says following this discovery, Manuka Health developed a robust scientific method to quantify the actual amount of methylglyoxal in its manuka honey products, information which it has included on labels since 2008.
To read the paper, visit http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/consultations.