FSAI Advises of Misleading Irish Honey Claims
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today urged the food industry to be vigilant when sourcing honey labelled as Irish, following the results of a recent FSAI survey, which highlights the issue of misleading labelling. The survey of 20 randomly selected Irish honeys, sourced from various manufacturers and retail outlets throughout Ireland, identified that five were found to be non-Irish, four of which were labelled as Irish, and one of which bore a misleading label of origin. As a result of the breaches uncovered by analytical methods, a total of five food business operators were fully audited including packers, brand owners and/or retailers of the samples in question. The FSAI is working with retailers to ensure the affected products are removed from sale.
The FSAI survey, entitled ‘Analytical and Traceability Survey to Determine the Authenticity of Honey Labelled as Irish on the Irish Market’, was conducted by the FSAI between July 2005 and April 2006. The survey was undertaken to establish if honeys sold as Irish honey on the Irish market complied with EU labelling legislation. As part of the survey, analysis of the floral origins of honeys was carried out by identifying the pollens found in the honey. This enabled Irish honey to be distinguished from foreign honey.
Audits were carried out with the food business operators responsible for packing/distributing the non-compliant samples. During the audits, the non compliances regarding legislation relating to the labelling and authenticity of the products were outlined to the food business operators. Corrective action was requested of each food business operator to ensure the relevant legislation was being complied with.
The five non-Irish honey products identified by the FSAI survey were:
Molaga Pure Honey (best-before 9.8.07) – the label inferred Irish origin, but the survey indicated honey of Mediterranean/Spanish origin;
Kilkenny Pure Irish Honey (no information) – labelled as Irish, but the survey indicated honey of Mediterranean/Spanish origin;
Natural Ireland Honey (best-before 9.8.07) – labelled as Irish, but it the survey indicated honey of Mediterranean/Spanish origin;
Irish Honey- Wheelock’s Fruit Stall (no information) - labelled as Irish, but the survey indicated honey of South American origin;
Wexford Honey – Jim Kenny (no information) – labelled as Irish, but the survey indicated honey of Eastern European to Chinese origin.
Mr Jeffrey Moon, Chief Specialist, Environmental Health, FSAI, reminded food business operators to ensure they keep adequate traceability information and to only purchase honey labelled as Irish from reputable sources.
"Consumers’ interests are being undermined by operators who are too willing to exploit those who are seeking genuine Irish products. This is not acceptable. The onus is firmly on the food industry to be able to trace their products back to source and clearly state the correct country of origin. Not only is this the minimum consumers can expect, it is the legal responsibility for all those involved throughout the whole food chain from manufacturers to retailers.
"Traceability is key to maintaining consumer confidence in the food sector and food business operators are reminded of their responsibility to be able to identify from who and to whom a product has been supplied – the one step back and one step forward approach. I would urge retailers to be careful when sourcing honey products from suppliers, so that consumers can trust that honey they are buying that is labelled as Irish, is in fact Irish," Mr Moon concludes.
The FSAI states that monitoring of honey for authenticity and accurate labelling will be ongoing in Ireland, and assures consumers that appropriate action will be taken where breaches of legislation are identified.
Click here for the survey ‘Analytical and Traceability Survey to Determine the Authenticity of Honey Labelled as Irish on the Irish Market’.