Honey authenticity: a protocol for the collection of honey reference samples published

The UK Government Chemist, in collaboration with the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have unveiled a new tool in safeguarding the authenticity of honey with the publication of a unique protocol, the first of its kind in the world, for the collection of honey reference samples for the construction of authenticity databases. This protocol defines a practical process for obtaining reference samples at different points in the honey supply chain, and to specify what associated records, documents and other considerations are necessary for a sample to be deemed acceptable for inclusion in a honey authenticity database; which will help stakeholders, including consumers, to have greater trust the quality and labeling of honey products.      

Due to its global trade and intricate supply chains, honey is particularly susceptible to adulteration, often through the addition of inexpensive sugar syrups. Fraudsters specifically target products with premium status, complex supply chains, or sudden demand surges. To address this issue, standardized authenticity testing methods are of utmost importance.      

One of the challenges in authenticity testing lies in the varying interpretations made by different laboratories, which can arise from the use of disparate reference databases. To build trust and standardize authenticity databases, it is essential to define and collect "authentic" reference samples based on an established protocol. Ideally, these samples should be collected by independent third parties, separate from the database owners, to further enhance trust and transparency.      

The Government Chemist, Defra, the Food Standards Agency, and Food Standards Scotland, in the UK, have a significant program of work dedicated to honey authenticity, aiming to collaborate with researchers, enforcers, industry stakeholders, and international bodies within the honey community. By improving current authenticity testing methods and establishing standardized protocols, the initiative seeks to bolster consumer confidence, combat fraudulent practices, and uphold the integrity of the honey industry.      

This protocol for the collection of honey reference samples marks a significant step toward protecting consumers and enhancing the trustworthiness of honey products; it is freely accessible for any stakeholder in the world to use, which will help better combat honey fraud and promote transparency within the industry.        


UK Government