A day after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that it found rampant adulteration in many honey brands, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that it has sought details of the samples and tests conducted by CSE for its own analysis.
The FSSAI also stated it was not clear why the CSE did not use the Specific Marker for Rice syrup (SMR) test, a more sensitive and focussed test prescribed by it and used the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) method, which is a rapid and database-driven detection method with limited utility in the Indian context.
The FSSAI pointed out that no food regulator in the world has so far mandated NMR as a test method for honey.
More sensitive test
“A more sensitive SMR has already been made mandatory and is a more focussed test to detect adulteration of rice syrup in honey, hence, it was felt by scientific experts that NMR is not necessary. This view was concurred by the Ministry of Agriculture, and hence NMR has not been made mandatory as a test method,” FSSAI stated.
“Prior existence of a database is a necessity for effectiveness of NMR technique. No such database exists at present for Indian honey and hence, NMR testing will have limited utility,” the official statement added.
FSSAI’s scientific panel believes that India, of all the countries across the globe has the most stringent standards for honey.
On Wednesday, CSE claimed that FSSAI’s instruction for checking adulteration of honey with golden syrup, invert sugar syrup, and rice syrup was erroneous since fructose syrup is being used to adulterate honey.
“FSSAI had issued the said instructions in this regard last year on December 23, for the first time, on the basis of a request from the Ministry of Agriculture, which had suggested that these imported syrups are being used for adulteration of honey. Action is required to prevent adulteration from various sources, and hence this order is not erroneous, but is a part of our ongoing efforts to prevent adulteration of honey,” FSSAI said.
Leading companies have dismissed these allegations as “motivated” and have also called it a move to “promote German technology and machines which costs crores of rupees.”
In a separate statement, CSE said it stands by its findings and believes that NMR is an advanced test that can detect adulteration with modified sugar syrups, which may otherwise go undetected.