Honey Adulteration by big brands in India: A through report

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A recent investigation by Down to Earth has found that Honey is the most adulterated food in the world. The government has mandated additional and advanced tests for honey which has to be exported. India’s food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been sending signals that suggest that new kinds of adulteration has been happening. In June 2020, FSSAI wrote to the state food safety commissioner about the need to step up surveillance, sampling and inspection to check misuse of Golden syrup/ Invert sugar syrup/ rice syrup in honey.
In 2010, CSE lab found antibiotic residues in honey. In 2014, FSSAI amended honey standards to include antibiotic residue limits. In 2017, FSSAI drafted standards for honey, which included tests to detect cane and rice sugar. In 2018, FSSAI notified standards with some minor changes. In 2019, FSSAI reversed its decision to test key parameters such as SMR, TMR that would have allowed detection of rice sugar and other adulteration in Honey. In 2020, FSSAI stated that it has been informed about adulteration of honey using golden syrup, rice syrup and invert sugar syrup.
The Source of adulteration is golden syrup, invert sugar syrup and rice syrup and is mixed with honey as they are cheap products and hence the profit margin is increased. It is suspected that these adulterants are being purchased in bulk from China. Chinese firms claim that their syrups will make honey avoid advanced adulteration tests. It has been found that out of 166 inverted sugar syrup shipments from China, 100 were bought by buyers in Punjab, 30 from Delhi and 15 from Uttrakhand. It has been concluded that much of the honey we consume is adulterated.

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