Pune, June 30, 2010 (sources: ApiNews dated June 17, 2010; Official Journal of the European Economic Union dated June 12, 2010; Infodriveindia news dated March 19, 2010; PTI news item in the Economic Times dated June 18, 2010):
A Business Line news published by the Infodriveindia dated March 18, 2010 reported that the European Union might ban imports of Indian honey from April 2010 because of the increasing number of honey samples containing antibiotics and heavy metal residues and consequently failing the residue tests.
The European Economic Community (EEC) had in 2004 decided to include India among the third countries who could export honey to the EEC member countries. The honey for export should conform to the specifications laid down particularly with regard to the residues of heavy metals, pesticides and antibiotics. The Commission monitors the presence of these substances in the honey and if any substance / residue is found contrary to the EEC regulations, it advises strict monitoring by the exporting country and strictly following the EEC's food standards. India's Export Inspection Council (EIC) under the Union Ministry of Commerce arranges for tests on residues, antibiotics, etc., in the honey meant for export to EEC and sends the data to the European Union.
According to the Business Line news, a Ministry of Commerce official told that earlier Canada had rejected some Indian honey consignments alleging adulteration with cane sugar. Some exporters were importing adulterated Chinese honey and re-exporting it to markets in EU and Canada, the official added.
Finally, the Food Chain and Animal Health committee of the EEC in a meeting held on April 13, 2010, approved a blanket ban of honey imports from India.
In its June 12, 2010 issue (L 147/5), the Official Journal of the European Union published the Commission Decision of June 11, 2010 amending the Annex to Decision 2004/432/EC on the approval of residue monitoring plans submitted by third countries (including India). According to this decision: "A Commission inspection to India has revealed serious deficiencies concerning the implementation of the residue monitoring plan for milk and honey. Therefore, the entries for India concerning milk and honey should be deleted from the list in the Annex to Decision 2004/432/EC. India has been informed accordingly."
A PTI news item in the Economic Times (June 18, 2010) reports that the Ministry of Commerce Secretary informed that the government was looking at ways to resolve the issue of import ban. The EU, according to the news is the second largest destination for Indian honey exports after the US.