The honey industry in Malaysia grapples with a pressing dilemma: the pervasive presence of counterfeit honey flooding the market, comprising a staggering proportion of up to 90 percent of the products available, as disclosed by a local honey expert.
Dr. Zulkifli Mustafa, a senior lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), shed light on this disconcerting reality, emphasizing the paramount challenge faced by the honey sector - the rampant proliferation of artificial honey masquerading as genuine.
Speaking during an interview with a local radio station, Dr. Zulkifli underscored the necessity for rigorous laboratory testing to discern authentic honey from its counterfeit counterparts. His research, conducted at USM's Department of Neurosciences in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, advocates for the recognition and utilization of honey sourced from stingless bees, renowned for its myriad health benefits.
"Honey derived from stingless bees, colloquially known as kelulut, encompasses a rich array of nutrients, offering multifaceted health advantages," elucidated Dr. Zulkifli. "It serves as a holistic source of energy, protein, vitamins, beneficial bacteria, and antioxidants."
Beyond its nutritional prowess, honey from stingless bees has been identified for its distinctive flavor profile, characterized by a harmonious blend of sweetness and tartness, accompanied by floral or fruity undertones.
Despite the escalating prevalence of counterfeit honey, initiatives spearheaded by approximately 4,000 breeders in collaboration with USM's application and commercial arm, Brainey, strive to propagate authentic stingless bee honey to discerning consumers. Dr. Zulkifli emphasizes stringent quality control measures to ensure the integrity and consistency of the honey supply chain.
However, amidst the burgeoning demand for honey in Malaysia, alarming reports from Berita Harian underscore the pervasive nature of the counterfeit honey dilemma, with synthetic variants often composed of water, high-fructose corn syrup, and molasses, posing potential health hazards to consumers. Stripped of its inherent nutritional value through rigorous processing, fake honey often lacks the discernible markers of authenticity, rendering visual inspection insufficient for differentiation.
In a landscape fraught with ambiguity, distinguishing genuine honey from its artificial counterparts remains a daunting task for consumers. In the quest for authenticity, consumers are encouraged to scrutinize product labels diligently, seeking transparency regarding the ingredients utilized in honey production.
However, considering the covert methods commonly employed in the sector, customers who wish to purchase authentic honey should exercise careful vigilance and keen discernment or opt for accredited organic honey options of known origins (e.g. honey produced in Australia or New Zealand).