The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 17th April 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the authenticity of British honey, following the investigation by the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office and the Joint Research Centre in which all British honey samples failed authenticity tests.
Lord Benyon (Con): The UK Government takes any type of food fraud very seriously, including honey adulteration. Defra works closely with enforcement authorities, the Food Standards Agency, and the National Food Crime Unit to ensure honey sold in the UK is not subject to adulteration, meets our high standards and maintains a level playing field between honey producers.
The UK welcomes the EU’s study assessing adulteration of honey with added sugars. There is no place for adulterated honey which undermines consumer confidence and disadvantages responsible businesses acting within the law.
We are working closely with the Food Standards Agency to follow up on the small number of honey samples, exported via the UK, which were flagged as suspicious for adulteration with added sugars. We will need to await the outcome of these enquiries before drawing any definitive conclusions relating to the UK results. We will act immediately if we find any wrongdoing as part of the investigation
Honey is a complex natural and variable product, meaning analysis can often be challenging. There are a range of different techniques available to ensure compliance with the Honey (England) Regulations 2015, which are like those in place in the EU. No single test can definitively determine a honey’s authenticity and a weight of evidence approach, including traceability investigation, is often needed regardless of the results of laboratory testing.
We support the EU’s call for increased efforts and cooperation in developing harmonised methods for detecting added sugars in honey. The Government has an active programme of research dedicated to honey authenticity, working to support monitoring and enforcement and to protect consumers and legitimate businesses.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Food Standards Agency’s investigation into the mislabelling of the country of origin on pre-packaged sliced beef.
Lord Markham (Con): The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) National Food Crime Unit is carrying out an investigation into a meat supplier. The investigation commenced in August 2021 and is pursuing allegations that the supplier fraudulently provided products labelled as British that were sourced from other countries. As this is a complex criminal investigation which must be carried out with due process and fairness, it is important that the investigation continues to adhere to the highest possible professional standards so that justice can be served.
In recent weeks allegations have been made regarding potential hygiene and food safety breaches, with the FSA currently exploring these allegations. No current food safety risks have been identified. The Chief Executive has recently made a statement about the investigation.
The FSA is held to account by its independent Board, which was set up in the 1999 Food Standards Act. The Board meets in public on a quarterly basis and next meets on 21 June 2023, in Belfast.
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