Manuka honey court battle dropped

Newstalk ZB Staff,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 30 January 2018, 12:23PM
A chemical marker in multi-floral was set to be changed in early February. (Photo / Getty)
A chemical marker in multi-floral was set to be changed in early February. (Photo / Getty)

Last-minute changes to the Government's guidelines on multi-floral manuka honey are seen as "just a tweak" by the Minister in charge.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has avoided a legal battle by halving the required level of one of the markers that determines export products have manuka in them.

NZ Beekeeping was threatening court action, claiming the guidelines announced late last year would cause more than $100 million a year in damage to exports.

Minister Damien O'Connor said they've now tweaked the multi-floral definition slightly, but they've made no changes to the mono-floral, premium manuka honey definition.

"The mono-floral will have to meet the highest standards, so the people that buy it know what they're getting."

The court case was meant to begin in the Wellington high court on Wednesday.

The proposed changes, meant to be introduced on February 5, would have seen a designated chemical marker in multifloral manuka honey - known as 2 MAP - raised to 5mg per 1kg to reach an export standard.

But it was now remain at 2 MAP marker at 1mg per 1kg.

There is no change to the 5mg per 1kg marker requirement for monofloral manuka honey, which comes solely from the manuka flower.

MPI deputy director-general regulation and assurance Bryan Wilson said newly analysed tests showed identifying multifloral manuka honey was "initially set too conservatively".

"We hope the industry will see this as a signal of MPI's ongoing commitment to a collaborative science programme focused on continuous improvement to the science that supports the definition of manuka honey."

MPI developed the definition after there was more manuka honey being sold than could be produced, as regulators from China and the UK demanded a standard to protect fraudulent honey coming into their markets.

It would safeguard the industry from cowboy operators, Minister for Food Safety Damien O'Connor said last month.

"Our trade partners and consumers in many countries want to know they are getting the real deal and this definition will provide them that assurance," he said.

- with content from NZ Newswire

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