On Wednesday, the environment watchdog Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed that honey sold by thirteen major brands in India, including Dabur, has been found adulterated with sugar syrup.
However, later, Dabur rejected the allegation in a statement issued.
Food researchers at CSE selected thirteen top brands and some smaller brands that sell processed and raw honey in India to check their purity. The researchers found that 77 per cent of the samples were adulterated with sugar syrup, reported India Today. Out of the twenty-two samples that were checked, only five passed all the tests.
The CSE study said honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya failed NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test, the report added.
The samples of these brands were first tested at the Centre for Analysis and Learning in Livestock and Food (CALF) at the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Gujarat. The CSE said almost all the top brands passed the tests of purity while a few smaller brands failed the tests to detect C4 sugar or basic adulteration using cane sugar.
However, when the same brands were tested using NMR — laboratory tests currently being used globally to check for such modified sugar syrups — almost all the big and small brands failed. Out of the 13 brands, only three passed the NMR test conducted by a specialised laboratory in Germany.
The three brands are Saffola, MarkfedSohna and Nature’s Nectar (one out of two samples).
“What we found was shocking. It shows how the business of adulteration has evolved so that it can pass the stipulated tests in India. Our concern is not just that the honey we eat is adulterated, but that this adulteration is difficult to catch. In fact, we have found that the sugar syrups are designed so that they can go undetected,” said Amit Khurana, programme director of CSE’s Food Safety and Toxins team, said.
As per Dabur’s statement, it is the only company in India to have an NMR testing equipment in its own laboratory.
An Emami spokesperson said that the Zandu Pure Honey “conforms and adheres” to all protocols and quality norms and standards laid down by the Government of India and its authorised entities such as FSSAI. However, unlike Dabur, it did not comment on the NMR test which is considered the global standard.
CSE Director-General Sunita Narain said an additional undercover operation was conducted to find out more details. “Chinese companies informed CSE that even if 50-80 per cent of the honey is adulterated with syrup, it would pass all stipulated tests. A sample of the syrup that can bypass tests was then sent by the Chinese company as paint pigment to get through customs,” she said.