Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami decry a study that found what you buy is not all honey

Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami decry a study that found what you buy is not all honey
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  • A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claims that most big Indian brands, including Dabur, Patanjali and Emami, are selling adulterated honey. And that these brands failed an adulteration test carried out by a foreign laboratory.
  • 10 out of 13 honey brands have failed the ‘purity test, the investigation by CSE reveals.
  • However, companies have refuted these allegations. In an email statement to Business Insider, Dabur said that “the recent reports seem motivated and aimed at maligning our brand.”
  • Indian billionaire businessman Acharya Balkrishan from Patanjali also called the report “a plot to defame Indian natural honey industry.” And, added that it might be a way of promoting German technology in India.
Top branded honey producers in India, including Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami are allegedly selling adulterated honey with a modified sugar, according to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). It claims that the big brands failed an adulteration test carried out by a foreign laboratory.

However, the leading Indian brands have denied these reports calling them malicious and baseless; and that they comply with the guidelines laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

In an email statement to Business Insider, Dabur said that the recent reports “seem motivated and aimed at maligning our brand. We assure our consumers that Dabur Honey is 100% Pure. It is 100% indigenous, collected naturally from Indian sources and packed with no added sugar or other adulterants.”

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The manufacturer of Zandu Pure Honey, Emami also said that its “honey conforms and adheres to all the protocols and quality norms/standards laid down by the Government of India and its authorized entities such as FSSAI.”

Indian billionaire businessman Acharya Balkrishan from Patanjali has called the report “a plot to defame Indian natural honey industry.” He also added that it might be a way of promoting German technology in India.

CSE investigates how the brands adulterated honey

The CSE investigation reveals that the companies mixed the naturally acquired honey from bees with sugar syrup procured from rice, corn, beetroot, and sugarcane and passed them off as pure. It also added that almost all brands of honey being sold in Indian markets are adulterated with sugar syrup.
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The organisation said the repeated use of the terms fructose and glucose on Chinese websites prompted them to look at the imports of these from China.And, when they checked Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry export import database, the two of the FSSAI named syrups — rice syrup and golden syrup — could not be found. However, “Invert sugar” had an HS code but limited shipments.

These are the findings:

The adulterated honey passed tests of purity when first tested at the Centre for Analysis and Learning in Livestock and Food (CALF) at the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Gujarat.

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However, when the same brands were tested using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) laboratory tests, which is currently used globally to check for such modified sugar syrups – almost all big and small brands failed, the report said.
  • 77% of the samples were found to be adulterated with addition of sugar syrup.
  • Out of 22 samples tested, only five passed all the tests.
  • Honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya, all failed the NMR test.
  • Only 3 out of the 13 brands – Saffola, Markfed Sohna and Nature’s Nectar (one out of two samples) — passed all the tests.
CSE raises the red flag

The director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Sunita Narain said, “It is a food fraud more nefarious and more sophisticated than what we found in our 2003 and 2006 investigations into soft drinks; more damaging to our health than perhaps anything that we have found till now – keeping in mind the fact that we are still fighting against a killer COVID-19 pandemic with our backs to the wall. This overuse of sugar in our diet will make it worse.”

CSE also claimed that the Indian government might be aware of this adulteration and is not interested in digging it. “We filed an application under the Right To Information Act (RTI) We filed an application under the Right To Information Act (RTI) with the Imports Division of FSSAI. FSSAI has said it has sent the RTI application to another division but has not cared to say which one So, either FSSAI knows what is going on, and is not telling us—the consumers—or, it is fishing around to see if it can find the honey fraud and stop it,” the report added.

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Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami decry a study that found what you buy is not all honey

Business Insider checked out the labels of Patanjali Honey and Dabur Honey to check if it mentions Fructose-Glucose ratio, which needs to be under 0.95-1.5% by mass. However, the company does not reveal that detail on the label. The labels from both these companies did mention that there is no added sugar and the products match the FSSAI standards.

Debunking ‘pure honey’ myths

Pure honey is pasteurized but contains no added ingredients.

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Myth: You cannot test honey’s purity
Fact: To test adulteration in honey, you can add a teaspoon of the honey in a glass full of water. The adulterated honey will dissolve quickly in the water, whereas the pure honey with a more dense texture will settle right at the bottom as lumps.

However, the CSE claims that it even manipulated the first safety check at CSE, so it can easily deceive the home-based tests.

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