13 December 2020
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India scientific panel of FSSAI has pointed out that India, of all the countries across the globe as well as Codex Alimentarius Commission, has the most stringent standards for honey. FSSAI also added that almost no food regulator in the world has so far mandated NMR as a test method for honey.
Taking note of CSE’s investigation on adulteration in honey, the FSSAI stated that it is not clear as to why some tests like SMR have not been conducted on the samples spiked with adulterants by CSE. FSSAI has requested for details of the samples and the tests conducted from CSE. As soon as details become available, they will be analysed by FSSAI to draw conclusions about the protocols followed and suggest any improvements that are required in the test methodology for future.
Regarding the utility and desirability of NMR for honey testing, it needs to be clarified that NMR allows rapid, but database driven detection and quantification of various chemical compounds, especially for authenticating the origin of a sample of honey. Prior existence of a database is a necessity for effective utilisation of this technique. No such database exists at present for Indian honey and hence, NMR testing will have limited utility. The cost of conducting NMR test is also quite high and the volumes available at present would not be sufficient to motivate laboratories for investing in this high end equipment. In view of lack of database, high skill requirement, high operating cost and high capital investment; the scientific panel has opined that NMR is not required at this juncture.
One of the points raised in this investigation is about the non-prescription of Trace Marker for Rice syrup (TMR) for detecting adulteration of rice syrup in honey. In view of the fact, a more sensitive Specific Marker for Rice syrup test (SMR) has already been made mandatory and is a more focused test to detect adulteration of rice syrup in honey, hence, it was felt by scientific experts that TMR is not necessary. This view was concurred by the Ministry of Agriculture, and hence TMR has not been made mandatory as a test method.