HONEYFRAUD RESPONSE AND CLARIFICATION BY Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
CSE rebuts statement issued by a Chinese company which exports sugar syrup to India
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has rebutted a statement issued yesterday by Chinese company Wuhu Deli Foods, which has criticised CSE’s recent investigation into adulteration in honey and the role played by Chinese companies in selling sugar syrup in India.
On December 7, Wuhu Deli Foods, based in Anhui province of China, issued a public statement on its website against CSE’s investigation. Wuhu Deli sent CSE the statement through a video message as well as a pdf file.
Wuhu Deli was one of the companies that were contacted by investigators from CSE posing as a fictitious honey trading firm trying to find out if Chinese sugar and rice syrup could be brought into India and mixed with Indian honey, and whether this syrup-spiked honey would pass the Indian testing standards.
In its public statement, Wuhu Deli has categorically denied that it knew that the said syrups being solicited by the CSE investigators were to bypass the tests to prove the authenticity of honey in India. WUHU Deli’s statement also mentions that the company believed the transaction had only to do with syrup, and nothing to do with honey.
CSE says that its investigators wrote to Wuhu Deli seeking syrups that could bypass the honey specifications as mandated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSAAI). “We clearly wrote asking for syrups that could pass C3, C4 tests, including those for SMR, TMR, and foreign oligosaccharides,” says CSE.
These testing parameters that CSE researchers mentioned in the email to Wuhu Deli are to specifically test the authenticity of honey in India – and not meant for that of sugar syrups or rice syrups (which Wuhu Deli alleges it thought it was dealing in). In fact, Wuhu Deli’s response to CSE’s request says — in clear terms — that its high fructose syrup could pass all these tests. Not just that, it also quoted prices for 10 container loads (200 tonnes) of this syrup that could bypass the above testing parameters for honey authenticity in India.
It is common knowledge that Chinese companies have expertise in syrups, which when adulterated in honey can pass the Indian testing parameters. There are numerous sellers on online marketplaces like Alibaba who advertise this. Wuhu Deli is one such advertiser and has been rated by Alibaba as a ‘gold supplier’.
Says CSE: “It is a fact that Wuhu Deli sent us a shipment of samples that contained syrup with the intention of helping us to bypass the honey testing protocols in India. It is unfortunate that because CSE is not a food importer, it did not have requisite clearances to import food products and had to cancel the shipment from Wuhu Deli. If we manage to get possession of this shipment, we will be happy to get its contents tested.”
By Ms. Pratyusha Mukherjee, a Senior Journalist working for BBC and other media outlets, also a special contributor to IBG News & IBG NEWS BANGLA. In her illustrated career she has covered many major events.