Honey adulteration: Meals regulator meets CSE consultants to debate knowledge

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 4

The Indian food regulator is holding a meeting with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) experts on Friday after the organization revealed that 10 of the 13 major honey brands in domestic markets failed the test of purity.

Speaking to The Tribune, CEO of the Food Safety and Standards Association of India Arun Singhal said, that the regulator welcomed the role of CSE in focusing attention on the issue of food safety and would engage them tomorrow to see whether existing test protocols needed any changes.

The CSE, meanwhile, defended its findings after Patanjali accused them of promoting German technology Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, that they used for detecting adulterants after deliberately spiking samples.

“The findings are now about big brands, including Dabur. We have talked about how smaller brands are also adulterated. This is consumer’s health,” said, CSE Director General, Sunita Narain.

CSE on Thursday said FSSAI’s testing parameters for honey could not detect any adulteration. 

“The fact that samples deliberately adulterated by us by up to 50 per cent of syrups passed all Indian tests is a robust proof of this,” said Narain noting, that NMR was an advanced test to detect adulteration with modified sugar syrups and was used worldwide.

FSSAI, however, said: “Almost no food regulator globally has so far mandated NMR as a test method for honey.”

“Prior existence of a broad honey database is a necessity for effective use of NMR. No such database exists in India and so NMR testing will have limited utility. The cost of conducting it is also quite high,” said FSSAI.

The regulator also said, that while CSE has spoken about no use of Trace Marker for Rice syrup (TMR) for detecting rice syrup adulteration in honey, the “fact is a more sensitive Specific Marker for Rice syrup test (SMR) has already been made mandatory in India and it can test adulteration.”

Regarding fructose adulteration, which CSE has flagged went undetected by Indian tests, FSSAI said, that India was already using sensitive tests for detection of fructose in honey.

“We will see what methods CSE used and then take a call on whether Indian testing standards for honey need to be reviewed,” said Singhal.

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