Kiwi manuka honey pulled from UK shelves

The Queen's official grocer has taken New Zealand manuka honey off its shelves over concerns some pots might not contain what the label claims.

Jeremy Friend, who sells manuka honey all over the world, is one of many in the industry worried confusing regulations could damage the honey's reputation.  

"It really needs to be packed in New Zealand, where it's under MPI standards and all our factories are pretty stringently audited," he says.

Fortnum and Mason, the Queen's official grocer, has temporarily pulled New Zealand manuka honey from its shelves after a newspaper investigation.

The Sunday Times revealed three British stores were selling honey that failed basic manuka standards.

UMF, a New Zealand honey quality control group, says there's confusion around what to test for.

"Currently there are no regulations that define manuka, and the onus has to be on the producer to say, 'This is how I classify manuka,'" UMF's John Rawcliffe says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is trying to fix that problem. It's been working on standards for the past three years, which will define exactly how manuka honey should be tested.

Mr Friend believes the biggest risk comes when manuka is exported overseas in bulk and can be diluted with other honeys, suggesting some overseas companies are mixing the golden elixir with cheaper brands to maximise profits.

"I don't want to point fingers but whenever you get something where the price is so high, like manuka honey, there's going to be cowboys in the industry," he says.

The new regulations will be imposed in the coming months in efforts to save consumers the world over from falling into a honey trap.