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Quality management for honey products need to be strengthened 2018-01-18

 

Quality management for honey products need to be strengthened

- Should make it mandatory to put a text on honey labels indicating that honey should not be given to infants younger than 12 months -

 

    Honey widely known as a health food from old times has been largely consumed by elderly people. Recently, a variety of domestic and imported honey products have been sold, but it turns out that the quality and safety of some products should be improved, and it is also urgently needed to provide consumers with sufficient information regarding 1) the fact that infants under the age of one should not be given honey, and 2) honey produced by bees fed sugar syrup*.

 

*refers to honey made by bees fed sugar syrup.

 

    This was revealed by the results of the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA)’s test (HMF)*, and investigation on the current status of labelling of 30 honey products (15 domestic products, 15 imported products) which are distributed and sold in online and offline stores.

 

*Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF): is an organic compound formed during cooking, processing and storage of food, and a marker of poor-quality food products. The level of hydroxymethylfurfural considerably increases when honey is undergone excessive heating. Hydroxymethylfurfural is used as an indicator of the freshness and grade of honey.

 

■ Some honey products were found to contain higher than permitted levels of hydroxymethylfurfural.

    Among the tested 30 honey products, the levels of hydroxymethylfurfural contained in Macheon Nonghyup Multiflower Honey (manufacturer: Macheon Nonghyup) and Organic Amazon Forest Honey (manufacturer/importer: Y.S. Health Corp.) were found to be 147.6/and 248.7/, respectively. The levels are about 3 times more of the hydroxymethylfurfural than the permitted level (less than or equal to 80/), showing that the quality of the products is low.

 

 

[Honey products containing higher than permitted levels of hydroxymethylfurfural]

Product Name

Manufacturer/Importer

Hydroxymethylfurfural(HMF)

(permitted level: less than or equal to 80mg/kg)

Sell-by date

Macheon Nonghyup Multiflower Honey

Macheon Nonghyup

147.6

June 1, 2019

Organic Amazon Forest Honey

Y.S.Health Corp.

248.7

December 1, 2020

  

    In addition, 6 tested products (20.0%) met the national standard (less than or equal to 80/), but exceeded the Codex standard (less than 40/, or 80/for honey from tropical climates). 2 (13.3%) out of 15 domestic products and 6 (40.0%) out of 15 imported products exceeded both national and Codex standards, and it turns out that the number of imported honey products exceeding the standards regarding hydroxymethylfurfural is larger than that of domestic products because it takes a long period of time for imported products to be shipped and passed through customs clearance and the sales period can be extended due to a large amount of imports.

 

■ Need to make it mandatory to put a text on honey labels indicating that honey should not be given to infants younger than 12 months.

    ‘Infant botulism’can result from eating honey that has been contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria, and the botulism can disrupt nerve function, causing paralysis in infants under the age of one, and in some cases, it can also bring about fatal illness.

    19 (63.3%) out of 30 investigated companies voluntarily indicated on their honey labels that honey should not be given to infants younger than 12 months, but 11 companies (36.7%) did not. If parents regard honey as a health food and give their infants the honey, it can lead to serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children. Therefore, it is required to make it mandatory to put a text on honey labels indicating that honey should not be given to infants under 12 months.

 

■ 2 out of 30 tested products were found to be ‘honey made by sugar fed bees’, but named as ‘Multiflower Honey’ on their labels.

    Although‘Dadeurim Multiflower Honey (manufacturer: Dadeurim)’ and ‘Jirisan Baemsagol Multiflower Honey Premium (manufacturer: Jirisan Baemsagol Korean Native Bee Honey)’ were honey made by sugar fed bees, they were named as “Multiflower Honey” on their labels, which could be confusing and misleading.

 

▷ Acacia Honey·Chestnut Honey·Multiflower Honey: honey made by bees using nectar from acacia flowers, chestnut flowers, and various flowers.

▷ Honey made by sugar fed bees: honey saved and produced by fees raised on sugar syrup

 

    Pursuant to the revision (December 6, 2017) of Foods Labelling Standards (Notification No. 2017-99 of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety), honey products made by sugar fed bees should indicate on their principal display panels that“This product is honey made by bees fed sugar syrup.”However, products which are produced, processed or imported prior to the effective date of the Notification (January 1, 2020), can be sold until their sell-by date according to the former standards, requiring consumers’attention when purchasing the products.

    The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) has recommended the companies concerned to improve 1) the quality and safety of honey and 2) the labelling of honey made by sugar fed bees, and also plans to request the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to provide consumers with sufficient information regarding 1) making it mandatory to say on honey labels that honey should not be given to infants under 12 months, and 2) labelling of honey made by sugar fed bees.

 

 

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