To strengthen the testing standards and allay fears surrounding the efficacy of honey, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has geared up to test the samples of honey.
This comes after reports by the Center of Science and Environment accused major Indian brands like Dabur, Patanjali and Emami Zandu of selling adulterated honey (honey that are made laced with Chinese sugar syrup).
FSSAI with the help of Central Bee Research and Training Institute (CBRTI) has started its work on pan-India drive to collect samples of honey and get them tested adulteration while it also sought product samples from Dabur, Patanjali and Emami Zandu.
Arun Singhal, chief executive officer of FSSAI said, “An institutional study is being commissioned to take samples from all over the country and get them tested,” while adding that when the data will be presented before the scientific panels when its becomes available and necessary amendments would be made.
He further said “We need a large data set of several numbers of samples (of Indian honey) because the aim is to conduct the examination for collecting evidence. To get a huge number of samples, FSSAI has contacted CBRTI and all India manufacturers of honey to provide test result data available with them.”
The food regulator has also requested the Ministry of Agriculture and National Bee Board to them of reliable test methods to detect “addition of fructose and glucose to honey”, while looking at developing a traceability network. The device will help to track food items through all stages of production, processing and distribution.
The entity has also directed all customs and import officials to “make end-use declaration of all kinds of sugar syrups mandatory, at the time of import”.
After reviewing the report by CSE, FSSAI has pointed that syrup that was found was “mixture of fructose and glucose”, both of which is naturally found in honey. But further addition of the same can adversely impact pollen count, diastase activity, proline level, and protein honey isotope ratio.
Talking about the test Singhal said “The CSE investigation has underscored the need to critically examine the threshold levels prescribed in these tests.”
In December, the FSSAI had again issued directions to food safety commissioners of all states to enhance surveillance, sampling and enforcement to check the use of sugar syrups in honey. A similar reminder was sent in June 2020.