Misleading honey claims cost Auckland businessman $26,000 fine

Making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter has cost an Auckland businessman $26,300.

Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation found that Towers exported honey worth approximately $30,000 while not being registered between March 2014 and November 2016.

MPI North Investigations Manager Simon Anderson says Towers operated his business, avoiding normal regulatory controls relating to record-keeping and traceability, as well as failing to operate under a risk management programme to ensure food safety.

"He also made false claims about the therapeutic nature of the honey, selling it as high-value manuka honey, and claiming that it had therapeutic properties," says Mr Anderson.

"Claims of this nature normally mean the honey will attract a much higher market value. However, such claims cannot be made on honey as there are no scientifically substantiated evidence to support these claims and consumers are misled by this type of labelling."

Mr Anderson says the honey industry is an extremely significant primary industry for New Zealand given its growth in recent years from a $121m export industry in 2012 to one that is now worth well over $300m.

"One of the issues for exporters is maintaining the trust and confidence of overseas consumers and regulators.

"MPI will take serious action to address this sort of offending including prosecution action where it is appropriate."

Source: 1 NEWS