Agri Business

Honey adulteration: CSE rebuts Chinese firm’s claim

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 09, 2020

Wuhu Deli Foods knew that its products were being used to bypass honey test, says NGO

The New Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), on Tuesday rebutted Chinese firm Wuhu Deli Foods’ statement criticising CSE’s recent investigation of adulteration in honey and the role played by Chinese companies in selling sugar syrup in India.

Last week, CSE had exposed how most branded honey sold in Indian markets was spiked with sugar syrup imported mainly from China as it can bypass adulteration tests mandated by the Indian regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

CSE ‘sting’: Most honey brands ‘adulterated with sugar syrup’

However, in a public statement issued on Monday, the firm based in Anhui province in China denied that it knew that the said syrups solicited by CSE investigators were to bypass the tests to prove the authenticity of honey sold in India. The statement also mentioned that the company believed the transaction had only to do with syrup, and nothing to do with honey.

Expertise in syrups

Wuhu Deli was one of the companies contacted by investigators from CSE posing as a fictitious honey trading firm to find out if Chinese sugar and rice syrup could be brought into India and mixed with Indian honey, and whether this syrup-spiked honey would pass Indian testing standards.

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A statement issued by CSE on Tuesday said its investigators wrote to Wuhu Deli seeking syrups that could bypass the honey specifications as mandated by FSSAI.

These testing parameters that CSE researchers mentioned in the email to Wuhu Deli are to specifically test the authenticity of honey in India — and not meant for that of sugar syrups or rice syrups (which Wuhu Deli alleges it thought it was dealing in).

In fact, Wuhu Deli’s response to CSE’s request said — in clear terms — that its high fructose syrup could pass all these tests. Not just that, it also quoted prices for 10 container loads (200 tonnes) of this syrup that could bypass the above testing parameters for honey authenticity in India, the NGO argued.

It is common knowledge that Chinese companies have expertise in syrups which, when adulterated in honey, can pass the Indian testing parameters. There are numerous sellers on online marketplaces like Alibaba who advertise this. Wuhu Deli is one such advertiser and has been rated by Alibaba as a ‘gold supplier’.

“It is a fact that Wuhu Deli sent us a shipment of samples that contained syrup with the intention of helping us to bypass the honey testing protocols in India. It is unfortunate that because CSE is not a food importer, it did not have requisite clearances to import food products and had to cancel the shipment from Wuhu Deli. If we manage to get possession of this shipment, we will be happy to get its contents tested.”

Published on December 09, 2020

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