The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Tuesday rebutted the Chinese company Wuhu Deli Foods's statement which denied having knowledge that their transaction had to do anything with adulterating honey with sugar syrup. In a statement, China-based Wuhu Deli has categorically denied that it knew the said syrups being solicited by the CSE investigators were to bypass the tests to prove the authenticity of honey in India. Its statement also mentions that the company believed the transaction had only to do with syrup, and nothing to do with honey.
The CSE, in a statement, rebutted the claim, and said it is a fact that Wuhu Deli sent it a shipment of samples that contained syrup with the intention of helping it to bypass the honey testing protocols in India. "It is a fact that Wuhu Deli sent us a shipment of samples that contained syrup with the intention of helping us to bypass the honey testing protocols in India. It is unfortunate that because CSE is not a food importer, it did not have requisite clearances to import food products and had to cancel the shipment from Wuhu Deli. If we manage to get possession of this shipment, we will be happy to get its contents tested," the CSE said.
Wuhu Deli was one of the companies that were contacted by investigators from CSE posing as a fictitious honey trading firm trying to find out if Chinese sugar and rice syrup could be brought into India and mixed with Indian honey, and whether this syrup-spiked honey would pass the Indian testing standards. CSE said that its investigators wrote to Wuhu Deli seeking syrups that could bypass the honey specifications as mandated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSAAI). "We clearly wrote asking for syrups that could pass C3, C4 tests, including those for SMR, TMR, and foreign oligosaccharides," says CSE.
"These testing parameters that CSE researchers mentioned in the email to Wuhu Deli are to specifically test the authenticity of honey in India and not meant for that of sugar syrups or rice syrups (which Wuhu Deli alleges it thought it was dealing in). In fact, Wuhu Deli's response to CSE's request says — in clear terms — that its high fructose syrup could pass all these tests. Not just that, it also quoted prices for 10 container loads (200 tonnes) of this syrup that could bypass the above testing parameters for honey authenticity in India," the CSE said in its statement.
The environment watchdog further said that it is common knowledge that Chinese companies have expertise in syrups, which when adulterated in honey can pass the Indian testing parameters. There are numerous sellers on online marketplaces like Alibaba who advertise this. Wuhu Deli is one such advertiser and has been rated by Alibaba as a 'gold supplier', it said.