The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from Centre and states on a plea seeking permanent ban on all unauthorised production, and companies and individuals carrying out illegal adulterated honey business.
The plea, filed by the Anti-Corruption Council of India Trust, through advocate Manju Jetley, cited the report from researchers of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), stating that major Indian brands of honey “were mixing honey with a modified sugar from China which bypasses some basic tests used to detect the adulteration in honey”.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, after a brief hearing in the matter, issued notice on the plea.
“Most of the honey sold in the Indian market is adulterated with sugar syrup. Therefore, instead of honey, people are eating more sugar, this is immensely worrying as it will further compromise health in the troubled times of Covid-19,” said the plea.
The plea also sought direction to the companies to submit to investigation or test reports of different honey brands or products before the top court. “Major brands Dabur, Patanjali and Zandu are selling honey adulterated with the modified sugar from China which can bypass some of the basic tests used to detect adulterated honey, research from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has alleged,” added the plea.
Submitting that spokespersons from Dabur, Patanjali and Zandu claimed that their honey brands meet the regulatory requirements laid down by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) and denied that their honey products were adulterated, the plea argued that as per the news published, out of 70 samples, only three could pass the internationally accepted by NMR spectroscopy test.
“It is a food fraud more nefarious and more sophisticated than CSE found in 2003 and 2006 investigation into soft drinks, more damaging to our health than perhaps anything that they have found till now keeping in mind the fact we are still fighting against a killer Covid-19 pandemic with our backs to the wall,” the plea said.
The plea is based on a CSE investigation, which alleged Chinese companies were exporting sugar syrup as fructose syrup to India with claims that it could bypass the basic test specified for selling honey in the Indian market.