Honey, the sweetener may be sugar syrup


Honey marketed by prominent Indian brands failed a key test of purity, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has claimed, citing an investigation it conducted.

  • Current regulations specify around 18 parameters that honey must comply with for producers to label it ‘pure honey’.
  • CSE food researchers selected 13 brands of raw and processed honey, including Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath and Zandu, and subjected them to tests that are required under national food regulatory laws to be labelled as honey.
  • Most brands passed muster but when subjected to one test, called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR, that can ascertain the composition of a product at the molecular level) that was done at a lab in Germany.
  • Only three brands (spanning six samples) passed: Saffola, Markfed Sohna and Nature’s Nectar (one sample of two). 
  • The NMR test is not required by Indian law for honey that is being marketed locally but is needed for export.
  •  It was found that sugar syrups are so designed that they can go undetected.
  • The CSE investigation also said some Indian companies were importing synthetic sugar syrups from China to adulterate honey.
  • Among the tests employed as per Indian regulations is one to check whether the honey is adulterated with C4 sugar (cane sugar) or C3 sugar (rice sugar). 
  • Most samples cleared these tests but failed the Trace Marker for Rice test, to test for rice syrup adulteration.
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