Honey retailer admits to adding synthetic chemicals to its product

A honey retailer has admitted doctoring its product with synthetic chemicals.

In the very first case of its kind, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) laid charges after it found honey brand Evergreen Life had been illegally altered. 

Evergreen Life pleaded guilty to three charges, and manager Tak Yoon Lee to two, relating to illegally adding chemicals to honey. 

The maximum penalties for Evergreen Life total over $1 million. As for Lee, he could be facing seven years in prison or a $200,000 fine.

It's alleged methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) were added to the honey. These are both synthetic chemicals, and are prohibited under law.

This raises its antibacterial profile, making the honey look like a stronger Mānuka product than it truly is. It can then be sold for a higher price. 

Eighteen Evergreen Life honey products used to be sold across New Zealand and the world, but you can't buy it anymore - it's already been taken off shelves back in a 2016 recall. 

It's the first time MPI has ever brought such a case to court, so this is a real landmark.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 30.