The honey industry in Malaysia is facing a challenge to identify the number of fake goods on the market, a number that may constitute up to 90 per cent of products sold in Malaysia, said a local honey expert.
“The biggest challenge of the honey industry now is the presence of artificial honey, which reaches 90 per cent in the market,” said Dr Zulkifli Mustafa, a senior lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
“To identify real honey, laboratory tests are required.”
Dr Zulkifli, a researcher at USM’s Department of Neurosciences in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, was speaking during an interview with a local radio station. The interview was recorded by a university circular published on Jan 29 promoting the use of honey from stingless bees.
He said that his research showed that honey from stingless bees, a species that bites instead of stinging for self-defence, contains a variety of nutrients that could have multiple health benefits.
“Honey is a complete food in terms of energy, protein, vitamins, good bacteria and anti-oxidants,” said Dr Zulkifli. “Stingless bee honey can relieve inflammation due to bacterial infection, stress, obesity and aging as well as chronic diseases.”
He added that honey from stingless bees, also known as kelulut in Malay, had a uniquely sweet and sour taste with a flowery or fruity aroma.
Dr Zulkifli has written and published journal articles on the benefits of stingless bee honey, but also on the adulteration of these honey products with vinegar to mimic its taste.
He said around 4,000 breeders were working with USM’s application and commercial arm Brainey to produce authentic stingless bee honey to the general consumer.
“Strict quality control guarantees the authenticity and consistency of the honey,” he said.
Source : Straits Times
A series of exclusive reports by Berita Harian. The test results from a laboratory found that the artificial honey is made out of sugar, starch, and corn flour—all of which could harm consumers’ health, especially diabetes patients.
Consumers must know about the danger of consuming fake honey because the manufacturing process mixes foreign materials, overheats and the standard of hygiene is poor. Such product could lead to heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
Principal research officer of Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Dr. Suri Roowi found that five samples of honey bought from different merchants contained a high amount of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).
Dr. Suri Roowi said that HMF is a natural compound of glucose breakdown in acidic condition, over consuming it could cause adverse effects on our body.
“We found that some samples have no nutritional values or source of honey in them, confirming that they are all synthetic,” said Roowi.
One man who reportedly consumed fake honey for the past 6 years was recently hospitalized for three months. Right now, the 64-year-old man’s right leg has an implanted rot to support his movement and his toes have yet to recover.
The man, Khairil Amri (not his real name), discovered his diabetes in December last year after consuming a variant of honey called kelulut honey, which produced by stingless bees in Kedah. He took it twice a day for six years.
After the diagnosed, he took the honey to MARDI to run a test because he disbelieved that his healthy diet had led to diabetes. He reported that he did not take sweet food, only a little during festive season; for beverages, he always opted ‘less sugar’ for his tea and Kopi-O.
The results of the test found that the honey he took for six years was indeed a counterfeit and the news left him devastated.
Khairil bought the fake honey for RM 80 – RM 100 per bottle. It was hardly his fault for believing its authenticity because some sellers would go great length to run ‘demonstration’ to prove that they were selling pure honey.
They would lie to the consumers by false educating pure honey’s characteristics, such as claiming so-and-so as accurate colour, fine bubbles on the top layer, and the ‘pop’ sound you hear when opening the bottle. Do these characteristics ring a bell?
Among all the variant of honey, consumers prefer kelulut honey better because it was claimed that it has higher nutritional value, thus seeing the emergence of more artificial kelulut honey in the market.
Dr. Suri Roowi found that 15 out of 270 tested kelulut honey samples were artificial and didn’t contain any nutrients.
In response, Ministry of Health revealed that 7 samples out of 77 honey in the market didn’t comply with the standards set under the Food Regulations 1985.
Under the regulation, Health Director-General Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said that honey should contain not less than 60% sugar reduction (reducing sugars) and its sucrose sugar-content should not exceed 10%, as reported by Says.
The health director had taken legal action against the non-complying companies and their products were withdrawn from the market.
MOH urged that if consumers do find counterfeit products, please report to District Health Offices or the State Health Departments. They will continue to pay stringent attention to monitoring food safety.
Any party caught producing or selling food that fails to meet Food Act 1983’s standards or specification, they would be convicted to up to five years of imprisonment or RM 20,000 fine, or both, under Section 13B(2)(e) of the act.
It is the time we put these counterfeit-makers behind bars! They are making Malaysians facing unnecessary health threat.
BEWARE OF FAKE HONEY IN THE MARKET, WARNS LECTURER
THE public should take extra precautions when buying honey from the market, particularly those that lack labels or information on the origins of the product.
“This fake honey is not only sold by the roadside but also through social media,” she said, adding that the sellers claimed that the honey they sold was pure.
Munirah said fake honey could be made by mixing refined sugar, citric acid, corn starch and distilled water.
According to Food Regulations 1985 under the Food Act 1983, pure honey should contain not less than 60% of reducing sugars (fructose, glucose and maltose) and its sucrose sugar content should not exceed 10%.
“Honey comes from nectar gathered by honey bees, where nectar is a sugar solution with varying concentrations secreted by flowers.
“From the appearance, fake honey and real honey may seem identical, especially when bottled or labelled nicely. Some may even put honeycomb wax into their product to convince buyers that the honey is pure.
“However, consuming honey made from refined sugar can have serious health implications, especially for diabetics,” she said, adding that if left unchecked, it could lead to other health complications too.
“There are also cases where real honey is mixed with sugar water, or honey bees fed with sugar water to hasten the honey production process.
“Fake honey can also produce an organic material known as hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which is harmful to humans when consumed regularly,” Munirah added.