Cold and flu sufferers warned over fake manuka honey
Consumers have been warned to watch out for fake products labelled as the natural cold and flu remedy manuka honey.
The genuine item is clearly marked as tested and verified by an independent certified laboratory, manufacturers say.
It comes as the price of manuka honey increases due to strong demand since the onset of winter. Prices for genuine manuka honey start at €9.99. Fake products are often sold at lower prices.
"Manuka honey has become an increasingly popular and expensive health food in recent years, for two goods reasons: it is renowned for exceptional health benefits and it is in very limited supply when compared to that demand," said Warren Peat of Watson & Son.
"So it's no coincidence that as demand increases, and supply can't match it, this leads to a growing number of honeys masquerading as the real thing. Consumers need to look for products that are labelled as tested and verified by an independent certified laboratory."
With demand on the increase, people can easily be misled by false labelling, said BR Foods, which distributes the product in Ireland.
The honey comes from the manuka plant, grown "almost exclusively" in New Zealand, and is said to have bacteria-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to combat colds or flu as well as to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Watson & Son said the genuine product has the unique active ingredient, methylglyoxal (MG), an anti-bacterial agent found only in manuka honey. Mr Peat said the label "must refer to either the MG level or the NPA level verified by a laboratory test to substantiate the activity levels claimed in manuka honey".