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Honey fraud: Need for a robust screening solutions

Honey Fraud - Honey Screening - Honey purity checks

Honey adulteration is archaic and worldwide

Economically motivated adulteration is rampant in honey and this unscrupulous practice is apparent since the beginning of history and is prevalent across nations. Since 1970s corn syrup has became a major adulterant to increase the honey volume and subsequently the seller profits. Strengthening this fact, there are many independent studies in USA, UK, Australia and India citing the presence of added sugar syrups which also includes leading brands. As the screening methods evolved over years, various other undetectable adulterants were added to the list, of which primarily, rice sugar syrup can circumvent the conventional tests for honey adulteration. Regulators across globe are coming hard on such practices and are timely prescribing quality standards for this product to safeguard the consumer rights. However it is very sad that in spite of these regulatory interventions, these kind of spurious products continue to perpetuate in the marketplace

Revised standards for Honey in India

On various occasions, the Indian apex body expressed its concern towards the ongoing menace of honey adulteration and have assured of revamping the standards for Honey. In addition to that, there are various reliable studies indicated the presence of adulterants and also failing FSS prescribed standards. Although, the alarming results that emanated from these studies were tactically addressed by brand owners, “Honey-gate” created enough buzz in the market. Subsequently, on 14.08.2018 acknowledging the ongoing falsification practices in the production of honey and also with intent to curb the malpractices FSSAI has notified revised standards for this product with an emphasis on the quality. Following are the new standards that were prominently introduced in the interest of public (in total there are 18 parameters that were prescribed for Honey)

New parameter introduced to identify sugars in 2018
C4 Sugar, per cent. by mass, Max
Specific marker for Rice Syrup (SMR)
Trace marker for Rice Syrup (TMR)

The enforcement paradox 

Going by the recent decision of the food regulator to temporarily relax enforcement of quality parameters citing transition is very amusing for an average consumer. This is a contrasting stand by the FDA amid unscrupulous pilferage. Interestingly, the industry is given ample time of 6 months to comply with the new standards excluding the time between publishing the draft and notification which is close to 4-6 months. Although, the need for another 6 months of transition is not explicit, it is clear that such actions allude to loosing public trust on both the incumbent department and also the products in the market. May be in the coming days both (FSSAI & Industry) would blame the farming methods for spurious quality of honey and pass the buck.

Instead of such contrasting stands, it is essential for both industry and FDA to work in the interest of public and come up with alternatives. If pure honey doesn’t make any business sense, then industry should represent a case that empowers the consumer to take informed choices. For instance, recently USFDA released a draft on the “added sugar” declaration in single ingredient products like honey, maple syrup etc.  Definitely it is a sensible move as the consumer would be making the decision. Hence, either a strong enforcement or voluntary declaration on added sugars would solve the misery of consumers. 

Click here the enforcement relaxation notice here

In an effort to bring latest technology advancements in the food safety domain, we would like to introduce our readers the tool Bruker NMR, that assess the quality of Honey in 25 minutes. Lets explore the key features and contact details 

How to tackle the honey fraud? – Honey-Profiling™ a powerful tool for honey verification 
To ensure the authenticity of a honey, typically a combination of several analytical methods is applied today that includes IRMS, detection of non-honey oligo-saccharides, enzymes used in industrial syrup production, as well as small molecule markers for foreign syrups. All this takes a lot of time and is costly; Moreover, it is of pivotal importance to judge a honey by several criteria simultaneously, which Honey-Profiling™ provides from a single measurement. Addressing these challenges, the Bruker NMR provides comprehensive analysis of honey in an efficient and cost-effective manner. 

Honey-Profiling™ 2.0 based on 1H-NMR was designed and developed carefully with experienced professionals in the industry.  The method, which features an expanded reference database, further improves the detection rate of the most common forms of fraud in honey. The fully automated analysis provides the following key features 

• Detection of addition of sugar syrups, including inappropriate bee feeding, based on a multitude of markers and patterns
• Verification of botanical variety and geographical origin (on pollen free honey samples) through sophisticated statistical analyses
• Simultaneous identification and absolute quantification of compounds like sugars, acids, amino acids and fermentation parameters, which give information about the quality of the honey
• Detection of deviations of the NMR profile compared to reference profiles, including the detection of new frauds in early stage

For more details and a free demo please visit Bruker official site, click here

(All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site)

Issue 35



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