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  1. Well folks its time for us to bring our participation in this thread to a close.Thanks for following and contributing to the discussion. We appreciate your comments and feedback. We are still in the risk period for tutin and ask that you continue to be vigilant. This thread will remain open for you to continue discussions among yourselves. Remember you can also liaise with MPI directly through its Facebook page here. Wishing you all a good end to the season. Catch you next year.
  2. Some images taken on the bank of the Tongariro river in Turangi this January. On the left you can see a passion vine hopper on a tutu bush – there were lots of bees foraging on other plants right next to this bush. River and stream banks like this are a very likely place to find tutu bushes and bees in close proximity!
  3. Did you know that it is not just bees that periodically feed on passionvine hopper honeydew? Ants and wasps do as well. Here's an informative fact sheet on scolypopa australis put together by Landcare Research for those of you interested. .http://nzacfactsheets.landcareresearch.co.nz/factsheet/InterestingInsects/Passion-vine-hopper---Scolypopa-australis.html
  4. With January being the start of the danger period for tutin we would love to hear from you about anything interesting you have observed. Perhaps you have tests results of interest you would like to share? In the East Coast region last season there were reports of a reading over 50mg/kg. That’s 70 times the permissible level and it comes from an area not normally considered high risk, demonstrating the need to be vigilant.
  5. Hi Alanbee MPI is unaware of any test kits for tutin. Because tutin can make people very unwell, any testing must be done in laboratories accredited to ISO17025.
  6. Testing can be at the batch or barrel level. If testing at the barrel level and using the results to determine if a corresponding batch is within allowable limits, you need to be confident that batches are a homogeneous blend of the barrels that go into them. Put another way, if your honey is properly homogenised, your tutin testing results should not be affected by testing at the batch or barrel level. You will need to make sure the honey sample is a true representative of total amount of honey you are processing. You can find more information about the importance of taking representative samples of your honey on page 9 of the MPI tutin compliance guide http://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/20489-compliance-guide-to-the-food-standard-tutin-in-honey-2016 Hope this helps.
  7. Happy New Year for 2018. Honey harvests will be well underway for many of you. A reminder that all honey harvested from January 1 onwards needs to be tested for tutin unless a. You have demonstrated and recorded the absence of tutu bushes in the forage zone (option 3 in the compliance guide) b. You are harvesting below 42 degrees South, being a geographical line between Westport and Cape Campbell (option 4 in the guide) c. You have three consecutive years of test date showing levels in your honey to be below 0.035 mg tutin per kg for extracted honey and 0.01 mg tutin per kg for comb honey, confirmed thereafter every ten years (option 5 in the guide) If in doubt, test.
  8. As noted by several of you, vine hopper activity has been early and high this year as a result of the warmer weather. We know that low levels of tutin (less than 0.1mg/kg) have been found in honey harvested in November and December in Northland in an MPI survey undertaken in 2008. It is also possible that low levels could also occur in other warm parts of the country in honey harvested before 1 January. It is unclear whether these low levels are as a result of early vine hopper activity or bees shifting contaminated late season honey up into honey supers as they make room for brood in the bottom boxes in the spring. For that reason we are asking you to be extra vigilant now, particularly if you are in the Coromandel, Eastern Bay of Plenty and Marlborough regions. MPI advises that if beekeepers are in any doubt about whether their honey may contain tutin, they should thoroughly homogenise and have it tested. This is our final post for 2017. We will be back again from January the 8th to answer more of your questions. If you have an urgent matter during this time regarding tutin we ask that you contact MPI directly on 0800 008333. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
  9. The pharmacokinetic study showed that it is likely that adverse effects may be experienced by some people after consuming honey containing tutin at the previous maximum level of 2mg/kg. Whilst the effects seen in the study were mild light headedness and headaches, there is considerable uncertainty in extrapolating the finding from a small scale study to an entire population. Considering that a third of the test population in the small scale study were affected, it is most likely that more sensitive individuals would be present in the populations and would experience more severe effects if they were consumers of honey which contained tutin at 2mg/kg. In order to protect all consumers from minor adverse effects such as those reported in the study, a reduction in the maximum levels by a factor of 3, resulted in a revised maximum level of 0.7mg/kg for extracted and blended honey. To find out more information about this you can read the risk assessment conducted for maximum level for tutin in honey: http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/code/proposals/Documents/P1029-Tutin-AppRSD1-RiskAssessment.pdf
  10. Hi Frazzled Fozzle Interesting point you raise. I hope the following helps explain how the levels are set: The requirements in the Food Standards Code are science-based (this includes a detailed risk assessment) and are set at levels well below anything that would cause a food safety risk. This is to ensure that the food safety risks to consumers are very low. The light-headedness and headaches reported in the pharmacokinetic study as adverse effects correlated with the time that tutin concentrations peaked in the blood of the volunteers giving reasonable confidence that tutin was the cause, and certainly not allowing the researchers to rule out this as being a sign of toxicity from tutin. This study was peer reviewed and the findings were not questioned. A precautionary approach has to be taken in ensuring food for sale is not going to result in any adverse effects to consumers, reporting in the Adult and Child National nutrition surveys indicates people do eat large amounts of honey, including children. As a result the calculation is protective to ensure that the honey available for retail is not going to cause adverse health effects for all consumers. A full scientific risk assessment on the regulatory tutin limit and the relevant consultation documents are on the Food Standards website as you have noted. See the link below. P1029 Maximum level for tutin in honey: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/proposals/Pages/P1029-Maximun-Level-for-Tutin-in-Honey.aspx For those of you interested, this link for general information on FSANZ’s risk analysis process (risk assessment, management and communication) might also be useful: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/riskanalysisfoodregulation/Pages/default.aspx Finally, If you have any queries about Food Standards, you can contact the Food Standards General enquiries line directly: http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/Pages/general-enquiries.aspx
  11. Both nymphs and adults produce honeydew in quantities sufficient enough for bees to gather. You can find more information about passion vine hoppers from section 2.4 (page 6) of the compliance guide to tutin in honey: http://mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/20489-compliance-guide-to-the-food-standard-tutin-in-honey-2016
  12. Hi Anakei The number of insects can fluctuate with seasonal variation, so if you are seeing more scolypopa nymphs or adults in the forage areas for your bees, MPI strongly recommends you test your honey to check for the presence of tutin.
  13. Further to this response from Apiculture NZ, MPI is currently not conducting any research into passion vine hoppers itself. At this stage the focus is on providing beekeepers options for keeping tutin at safe levels in our country's honey such as harvesting outside the high risk period (Jan – April) or having honey tested. It will be interesting to see what the Science and Research Group at ApiNZ make of this discussion in the New Year. Watch this space.
  14. Hi Dennis, thanks for the post. Any introduction of a new insect that is currently not in NZ, would require a full biosecurity assessment of the potential risks to ensure that we are not introducing any new diseases into the country. Also, although eradication may seem like the easiest solution more work would need to be done on finding out if the eradication of passion vine hoppers would have any negative impacts on other plants or the food chain.
  15. Hi @kaihoka There are several options. You can: a) Harvest your honey before 31 December from honey supers placed on hives after 1 July. Harvesting honey within these dates should avoid any significant risk of tutin contamination as vine hopper numbers do not usually build up until late summer. This is option 2 of the compliance options, you can read more in section 6.2 of the compliance guide: http://mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/20489-compliance-guide-to-the-food-standard-tutin-in-honey-2016 b) Show there is no significant number of tutu bushes in the forage areas of your bees. This is often difficult to prove as bees can forage around a 3km radius. You can read more about it in option 3 of the compliance guide: http://mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/20489-compliance-guide-to-the-food-standard-tutin-in-honey-2016 c) Run your hives in the South Island below 42 degrees South (deemed to be in low risk location). You can read more about it in option 4 of the compliance guide: http://mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/20489-compliance-guide-to-the-food-standard-tutin-in-honey-2016 If you are unable to comply with the above options, you can: a) Feed the honey back to bees when honey supers are not present on hives (you will need to test any subsequent honey crop); or b) Dispose of the honey. If you are in any doubt about whether your honey may have tutin in it, the safest option is to test it as you have noted. For more information, you can refer to clause 4.2(1) and 4.3(1) of the Food Standard: Tutin in Honey 2016: http://mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/11137-food-standard-tutin-in-honey
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