Japan rejects NZ honey with traces of weedkiller glyphosate

https://www. -- Apr 10
Japanese authorities have rejected four shipments of New Zealand honey since more stringent testing was introduced for the weed killer glyphosate in January.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) introduced mandatory testing for all honey headed to Japan from January 20 in response to concerns about glyphosate levels following random testing in Japan, which prompted authorities there to start testing all New Zealand honey at the border.

Some honey was already en route when the more stringent testing was introduced, and variability in testing between international laboratories has also caught out some producers.

Shipments of honey from Taranaki’s award-winning Egmont Honey, Northland’s organic producer Mills Farm, and Timaru’s 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Honey were rejected by Japan in February. The three companies confirmed they authorised the disposal of their honey in Japan.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in products like Round-Up. Japanese authorities have warned MPI that if 5 per cent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop our honey exports to Japan. That trade was worth $71 million last year, double the value of 2019, according to Stats NZ.

Honey manufacturers point to Japan’s low standard for glyphosate, at no more than 0.01 parts per million, considered the detectable level, compared with New Zealand’s regulation of 0.1ppm and the European Union standard of 0.05ppm.

They say that is because Japan does not have a separate classification for honey, but lumps it in the default “others” category in the rules. By contrast, the specified Japanese limit for flour, rye and buckwheat is 30ppm, corn is 5ppm and most of the commonly eaten vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and carrots is 0.2ppm.

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