Most of the honey being sold in the Indian market is adulterated with modified sugar from China which bypasses detection, a plea alleged in the Supreme Court which issued notice to the Centre and others on Monday seeking their replies.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs, several states, Union Territories and others on the petition which has sought directions to ban unauthorised production or manufacturing of adulterated honey.
It has also sought criminal action against those involved in this process.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was hearing the plea filed by 'Anti Corruption Council of India' which has said that authorities should be directed to file investigation/test report of different honey brands before the top court to ensure authenticity of the products being sold in the Indian market.
"According to researchers from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), major Indian honey brands are mixing honey with a modified sugar from China which bypass some basic tests used to detect the adulteration in honey," claimed the plea, filed through advocate Manju Jetley.
"The Centre for Science and Environment alleged that 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 Indian market," it claimed.
The plea said that honey is a natural product that has been widely used for its therapeutic effects and has had a valued place in traditional medicine for centuries.
It alleged that several honey being sold in the 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," it claimed.
The plea said that some of the honey brands have said that they meet the regulatory requirements laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and also denied that their products were adulterated.
It has sought direction to the authorities to carry out awareness programmes against use, possession and consumption of adulterated honey among the public at large. The plea has also sought directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps to curb adulteration of honey.