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MPI heads off legal challenge with late change to mānuka definition

Tuesday 30th January 2018

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The Ministry for Primary Industries has avoided a legal stoush with local beekeepers over a planned definition of what constitutes mānuka honey as regulators exert greater control over the label. 

The government agency reissued the general requirements for bee products export notice, reducing the level of chemical marker 2'-MAP to greater than or equal to 1 milligram per kilogram for multifloral mānuka honey from 5 mg/kg in the earlier notice, MPI said in a statement. Monofloral honey's required marker level remains at equal to or greater than 5 mg/kg. The ministry said the change resolved a legal claim by New Zealand Beekeeping challenging the definition. 

"The definition for identifying multifloral mānuka honey was initially set too conservatively and would exclude legitimate multifloral honey," MPI deputy director-general regulation and assurance Bryan Wilson said. "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 mānuka honey."

The government announced new labelling standards for mānuka honey last year, effective from Feb. 5, that would see the product tested for four chemical markers and one DNA marker before being sold overseas as mānuka. 

Apiculture New Zealand welcomed the change, which chief executive Karin Kos said gave consumers access to multifloral mānuka honey, and also provided certainty for 2018 production. 

"While at times it has been a challenging process working through the definition, we have also made good progress in achieving a shared commitment to a collaborative science programme focused on continuous improvement through new science and technology," Kos said. 


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