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Spotlight on honey quality

Felix Chaudhary
Monday, June 19, 2017

A CERTAIN brand of honey sold in some major supermarkets is being investigated by the Fiji Commerce Commission as a counterfeit product, its ingredients and origins alleged to be falsely labelled as Fijian made.

Another claim being investigated about this brand of honey is that it is being imported from an Asian country.

Fiji Commerce Commission CEO Joel Abraham confirmed the investigations began after a complaint was lodged. "The commission has received a complaint regarding allegations of adulterated honey being sold in Fiji, the matter is currently under investigation and, being fair when assessing any complaint, the commission has sought a response from the respondent in this matter," he said.

"While investigations are ongoing it would be premature to make comments regarding the details of the investigations."

Under Biosecurity Authority of Fiji regulations, honey imports are prohibited because of the threat of bacterial and parasitic diseases of bees, which are present in many honey-exporting countries.

When asked if the commission would take action if the product was found to be an import, Mr Abraham said it would depend on the outcome of tests.

"The issue in question is the quality of the product and any deviations to inferior quality products will be an issue."

The issue was brought to the attention of authorities by Fiji Beekeepers Association president John Caldeira.

He said a bottle of suspect honey was bought at a prominent supermarket in Labasa in December last year.

Mr Caldeira said emails were sent to the local company that distributed the product, but he did not receive a response. He added that complaints were registered with the Ministry of Health's Food Unit on December 15 and no action was taken to remove the product from supermarket shelves.

Mr Caldeira added that more suspect honey was found in other supermarkets in January this year.

"Due to the lack of progress by the Ministry of Health, a bottle of the suspect honey was sent by Fiji Beekeepers to Columbia Food Laboratories in the USA," he said.

Questions sent by The Fiji Times to the Health Ministry on June 5 and BAF on June 13 in regards to the issue remain unanswered.

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