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Kate R

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About Kate R

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    Nu Bee

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    Analytica Laboratories
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    07 444 5475
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    kate.robertson@analytica.co.nz

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  1. Generally the max level for moulds for export is 200 cfu/g so yours is OK based on this. Fermentation in honey is usually due to yeast counts specifically osmophillic yeasts which are suited to living in a high sugar environment like honey. As @Shane has mentioned, moisture levels are key to this. You might find this helpful: Fermenting Honey_NZ Beekeeper_Nov 2018.pdf
  2. If you're ever wanting to cross-check the accuracy and calibration of your refractometer, we've got an accredited moisture method at the lab that you could use to make sure you're getting the same results. Sending in one or two samples as a bit of a QC check would do the trick. We currently charge $20 +GST per sample and don't need much honey at all to run the test.
  3. I think Apimondia would contest none..! https://www.apimondia.com/documents/apimondia_statement_on_honey_fraud.pdf Although the sugars may not be detected with the C4 test, the risk is it could be picked up with other tests available internationally. See under: Table 1: Modes of honey production that violate the Codex Alimentarius Standard Feeding bees during a nectar flow. - Honey can only be produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants.
  4. @Emissary Ah yes, all good info thanks for sharing! Thanks for elaborating more RE my comment on the percentage difference, I didn't intend to simplify it down too much but thank you for clarifying. Absolutely the apparent C4 sugars is a real issue of the test and its suitability for use on manuka. I know that work funded by UMFHA using radiocative 14C isotopes showed that DHA and MG bind in significant amount to the protein, not sure if it's been proven that the protein is getting broken down in anyway. This particular work suggested a 'factor X' with a negative δ13C may also be binding to the protein and causing this shift in the protein measurement.
  5. The result is a percentage but it's not a direct measurement of the sugar as a concentration in the same way you'd interpret, for example, a 3in1 result. Unfortunately it's a bit more complicated than that. As frazzled has explained in that excerpt from one of our Beekeeper articles, the C4 test is comparing ratios of two different carbon isotopes (carbon-12 and carbon-13) in the honey and also in a measurement of the protein in the honey. The basis of this is that carbon ratios in sugars from nectar (C3 sugars) will be different from carbon ratios in sugars from other sources such as sugarcane, corn, etc. (C4 sugars). When you calculate the difference between the honey and the protein measurements this gives you the % C4 Sugars. If no C4 sugars have been added to the honey, you can expect the carbon ratios in the protein and the honey to be almost exactly the same. If C4 sugars have been added, the carbon ratio in the honey will differ from the protein (think of the protein as an indicator of the "true" carbon ratio of the honey). The AOAC standard for C4 sugars allows for a %C4 Sugars of up to 7% to allow for natural variation in that protein measurement (it's biology, so the protein won't be the same from honey to honey.) It's for this reason that you can get results in the negatives e.g. -7% C4 Sugar - which doesn't make sense. This is probably what your source was referring to where, less than 7% C4 is an indicator of 'apparent' C4 sugars i.e. regardless of a result between 0 - 7%, there could be no C4 sugar, and where greater than 7% C4 sugars according to the AOAC standard indicates adulteration. If the invert sugar syrup is from a C4 plant (e.g. sugarcane), regardless of whether it is invert or not, the sugar will be 100% C4 sugar. The difference in result you get when you test the honey is likely due to how much the bees have stored from the hives you've collected the honey from. I've attached that Karyne Rogers article I mentioned that you might find interesting. It discusses causes for C4 sugar fails including excess cane sugar contamination (e.g. overfeeding), supplementary protein feeding, brood box contribution, etc. Investigating C‑4 Sugar Contamination of Manuka Honey and Other New Zealand Honey Varieties Using Carbon Isotopes, Rogers 2014.pdf
  6. This is the classic case of bees eating sugar that they shouldn't be..! https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/pictures/121011-blue-honey-honeybees-animals-science/
  7. No worries. If you're producing non-manuka, overfeeding is the main thing you need to be careful of to keep your C4 sugar levels below the 7% threshold. There are complications with high-grade manuka where the apparent C4 levels in the honey shift over time (increase), and this shift has nothing to do with any addition of sugars to the honey. However, regardless of the grade of manuka, the baseline C4 levels will be higher if overfeeding has occurred.
  8. We've written a bunch of articles about C4 for the Beekeeper, you can find these all here: https://analytica.co.nz/News-Resources/tag/c4-sugars This one here is probably the best 'C4 101' article: C4 Sugars Answers to Commonly Asked Questions (have also attached). Happy to answer any further Qs you have. This segment of an article written by Karyne Rogers for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry explains the overfeeding/nectar flow issue well: Excess Cane Sugar Contamination (Genuine Fail). Sugar syrups are fed to bees as a supplementary carbohydrate source in times of winter nectar dearth or to prevent starvation during poor weather. Sugar syrups are also used to retain bees in specific areas such as orchards or fields to provide pollination services or to boost hives into breeding mode several weeks prior to nectar flow. However, supplementary syrup feeding also risks overuse, resulting in bees storing excess sugar syrups into brood boxes, which can later be uncapped and redistributed into collection boxes by the bees as they make more room for brood. Cane sugar (a C-4 plant, with a more positive carbon isotope value than C-3 plants) is the sole bulk sugar product available in New Zealand for commercial beekeepers. Addition or mixing of C-4 sugar syrups (which has a stable carbon isotope or δ13C value of ∼−10‰) with plant nectar will shift the δ13C honey isotope values to more positive isotope values than the δ13C values of available C-3 plant nectar sources, which range from −24 to −27‰. Article is: Investigating C‑4 Sugar Contamination of Manuka Honey and Other New Zealand Honey Varieties Using Carbon Isotopes (dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf404766f | J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 2605−2614) C4 Sugars Answers to Commonly Asked Questions_Jul 2018.pdf
  9. That's right - you'd use a refractometer in honey to measure the moisture and Brix. Identifying the sugar source or types of sugar you'd be looking at any number of tests such as: C4 Sugar test and variations, Sugar Profile, NMR, SM-B, SM-R, SM-X,... the list goes on. We've got these two resources that you might find helpful to explain some of the sugar issues, please feel free to use and distribute as you please. Not trying to push any of our services here.. just genuinely happy to share a bit of knowledge so hopefully you find this useful! C4 sugar and industry info - click link at bottom of page NMR info - click link at bottom of page
  10. Agree. That's the main issue that there aren't any tests currently that say absolutely, with confidence, that a honey is "pure"/not adulterated. There are various things in the pipeline both here and internationally but it doesn't help with honey that is currently being exported.
  11. I'll let beekeepers/producers respond to your query about whether they are getting asked the same question but I can give you an idea about what we get asked for as a lab. The majority of these "is this really honey" questions are tied in with adulteration using synthetic sugars. Historically this was with C4 syrups like high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar but now C3 syrups are being used to adulterate honey e.g. beet syrup or rice syrup. Honeys with these syrups added will pass the C4 sugar test. For this reason, there are more tests emerging that claim to test for specific sugars such as the SM-B method (for beet sugar) and SM-R method (for rice sugar) that have emerged out of China. There are also tools like NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) being used to identify "foreign sugar" markers in honey. This was the test used in the Capilano 'fake honey' news last year. Basically, it's complicated, and all these tests are so new it's hard to say how well they work particularly for manuka honey. To answer the verifier that's been in contact with you, the answer would be for wherever/whoever they are exporting/selling to and what tests they require as proof.
  12. @Jacob and I are doing some R&D into sugar syrups and we're hoping you beekeepers out there can help us with some information. We're interested to know: a) What sugar syrups you choose to use b) How do you store syrups? e.g. back of the ute, concrete slab outside a warehouse, in a cool spot, c) How long do you keep and use syrups for? e.g. 1 x IBC stored on concrete slab and used for 2 months. Any valuable info we get out of this work will of course be shared back to industry; we usually pull together resources like this in time for the Api conference.
  13. A lot of our international testing is for things that are issues internationally and not just in NZ. Specifically things like C4 Sugars and HMF that are export requirements for many countries. As we run these tests in high volumes, our tests are generally quicker and cheaper than overseas labs so the cost of freight and getting a sample halfway around the world is more cost and time efficient. We do get plenty of requests to test foreign honeys for 3in1 but unless the nectar source is a Leptospermum, the test results are always a non-detect.
  14. Kate R

    Tutu

    Without breaching any sort of confidentiality, I can't indicate what region this honey came from but the majority of high tut we see comes from the 'at risk' areas that have already been identified by MPI. This is not to say that all high tut comes from these areas..! This flyer from ApiNZ is a great summary resource for identifying those risk regions, compliance levels etc. https://apinz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/1331_Saturday_TutinArticle_Digital_FINAL.pdf I'm unsure of the specifics for amount consumed but it was described as "a couple of teaspoons". The compliance level for tutin in honey is 0.7 mg/kg. The highest levels we've seen in honey (all taken off hives and extracted after Christmas) are upwards of 50mg/kg, or around 70x the maximum residue limit. Here's a document from the New Zealand Medical Journal that explains in depth the well-known case of toxic comb honey sold in the Coromandel that resulted in several hospitalisations. This article also explains what the common effects of tutin poisoning are too (e.g. nausea, vomiting, dizziness, seizures). https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2018/vol-131-no-1473-13-april-2018/7544 Hopefully that's of some help! More summary info here: Tutin_NZ Beekeeper_Apr 2017.pdf
  15. Kate R

    Tutu

    Hi David, It depends on how many samples you've got but if you'd like to get your testing done through a lab you can get it done individually or as a composite (where we combine together multiple samples to give you a 'screen' result for all your honeys in that composite group.) If your composite result comes out at as a pass you can be confident that the honeys in that group are free from tutin. If your composite fails, you would need to retest your honeys to find out which (if any) are over the Food Safety limit. I'd recommend reading through this document to understand the options further: Analytica - Tutin Testing Information.pdf Otherwise cBank's suggestion of testing through a Bee Club is a really good idea if you want to keep costs down. Bearing in mind this comes with some risk that retesting might be needed in which case there would be the additional fee for the individual testing. Totally up to you with how you'd like to manage that risk. We've seen some pretty scary results come through the lab and heard first hand experiences of beekeepers being hospitalised after a few teaspoons of their own honey (😨) so if you're unsure of the risk in your area I'd recommend looking through some of the resources from ApiNZ/MPI around tut testing or just go for it and make sure you're in the clear by testing.
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