The U.K. Food Standards Agency has reportedly issued a nationwide warning
about misleading and illegal claims for manuka honey, a product derived
from the manuka tree in southeastern Australia and New Zealand and
endorsed by many celebrities who claim that it contains unique anti-bacterial
and medicinal properties. According to news sources, manuka honey
commands prices 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey. Tests by
the U.K. Food Environment Research Agency (Fera), New Zealand’s Unique
Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) and others, however, suggest
that many of the products labeled “manuka honey” contain none of its unique
active properties, prompting industry leaders to demand a crackdown on a
“potentially huge fraud.”

Industry data have apparently revealed that New Zealand—the main source
of manuka honey—produces only 1,700 tons of the honey each year, while
consumption data show that an estimated 10,000 tons is sold worldwide
annually, with 1,800 tons sold in the United Kingdom alone. Based on these
findings, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries has reportedly
issued a statement indicating that it is actively working with industry and
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to develop labeling guidance for manuka
honey and “provide clarity for producers and consumers.” Noting that she
took damage to the New Zealand brand “very seriously,” New Zealand Food
Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has also apparently recommended an “international
standard” in the long term.

Meanwhile, UMFHA spokesperson John Rawcliffe has announced a partnership with overseas agencies to create a testing regime, including  collaboration with Fera to establish a verification program in the United Kingdom. See New Zealand Herald, August 25 and 26, 2013; The ustralian. com, August 26, 2013.


About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.