Pure and Simple: Honey As it Should Be

These days, more and more people are questioning not only where their food comes from, but also what that food contains. That's why we go to great lengths to ensure our honey is just like nature intended.

However, there are still many things that we must keep an eye on to make sure that it stays that way...

The recent news about Japan questioning glyphosates in New Zealand honey exports is just part of a wider debate about unwanted chemicals making their way into food. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, including in New Zealand. Around 90 herbicides contain this chemical, with the most recognised brand being Roundup.

At Mountain Valley Honey we employ an accredited laboratory to check for glyphosates in our honey, as part of our honey testing regime. We believe when it comes to the food we give our families, it’s good to be on the safe side.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been surveying glyphosate residues in honey since 2017 and has set the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) at 0.1 mg/kg.

This rate is extremely low, with the Ministry providing the following context: "a five-year-old child who was consuming honey with the default maximum residue level in New Zealand would need to eat roughly 230kg of honey every day for the rest of their life to reach the World Health Organisation acceptable daily intake for glyphosate.”

Although there don’t seem to be food safety concerns at such low levels, we still take extra steps to ensure our honey remains as pure as possible.

Although we never use sprays ourselves, preferring to use manual tools and scrub cutters to keep the hive locations tidy, it can be difficult to control what farmers do on their individual properties.

Fortunately, we have developed long-standing relationships with a group of property owners who specifically avoid the use of chemicals on their land. We are lucky that many of these properties are extremely remote and in rugged terrain — far away from the type of agriculture that relies on the intensive use of weedkillers and pesticides. 

Our ability to place our bees into these remote hideaways is an added bonus when it comes to harvesting our pure Mānuka honey.

Monofloral Mānuka must come from a single source: just Mānuka flowers — pure and simple. The denser the patches of Mānuka, the purer the honey. The Marlborough region in the South Island has many places where Mānuka is plentiful, and it is there that we place our hives

Every season our Mānuka honey is tested to measure the levels of methylglyoxal, one of the beneficial active ingredients in Mānuka honey. The MGO rating that we put on our labels lets our customers know exactly what they are buying in terms of the honey’s purity and strength. Although it is not required to use these labelling standards in New Zealand itself, we prefer to apply these high standards to all the Mānuka honey that we sell.

Why shouldn’t New Zealanders also get that same reassurance that their Mānuka honey is what it says it is?

As well as testing for chemicals, both good and bad, we routinely test our honey for traces of Tutin. Tutin is a naturally occurring plant toxin found in tutu plants (Coriaria arborea). Tutin is very poisonous to people and other mammals. If the bees collect honeydew produced by the insects that feed on these plants, the honey they make can contain traces of tutin. Along with precautionary laboratory testing, we keep a very close eye out for these plants wherever we place our hives. 

Pure honey is such a wonderful product in its natural state. It is packed full of precious vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, organic acids and pollen. Too much processing destroys the very things that makes honey so incredible. That’s why we lightly filter our honey and very gently heat it (no higher than temperatures it would naturally reach in the beehive), to extract it from the comb.

That way our raw honey retains all the natural goodness that makes it so good for us. Keeping our honey as pure as possible is our constant goal. As you can see, this is not always as simple as it sounds and requires quite meticulous methods.

But we know that all the little things we do make a big difference, meaning we can confidently say that Mountain Valley Honey is one of the purest raw honeys in the world.

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