Tutin Testing

Tutin is a powerful neurotoxin, present in  the sap of the New Zealand tutu plant (Coriaria arborea). If ingested in sufficient quantities by humans and other mammals, it can cause convulsions and even lead to death. 

According to the Minsitry for Primary Industries Compliance Guide for Tutin in Honey, "around one quarter of honey samples from the North Island and top part of the South Island contain some level of tutin. Fortunately in most cases tutin is not present at levels that breach the limits set in the Food Standards Code." 

Tutin isn't toxic to bees, and it enters honey when bees feed on tutu honeydew. The honeydew is present on tutu leaves as an excretion from passion vine hoppers (Scolypopa australis) that feed on tutu sap. Honey containing tutin toxin cannot be distinguished by taste, sight or smell from other non-toxic honeys.

To prevent tutin poisoning, New Zealand has very strict regulations around the sale of honey. These regulations - the Food (Tutin in Honey) Standard 2016 - require that any honey obtained from hives that might be at risk of tutin contamination must be tested by an approved laboratory before it can be sold. Analytica Laboratories is an approved laboratory for tutin testing in honey, under the NZFSA Laboratory Approval System. 

The risk of tutin contamination in honey can be easily managed, provided beekeepers follow accepted good practice. The following video, produced by the NZ Bee Products Standards Council, is a good over-view of the subject.

Compositing

As well as testing individual honey samples for tutin, Analytica offers the option of combining ('compositing') up to 10 samples into one sample for testing. Analytica’s sensitive equipment will identify whether one (or more than one) of the composited samples might be above the maximum residue limit for tutin. If a positive result is returned for a composite sample, further testing is needed to identify which of the individual samples are responsible for the high result.

Analytica Laboratories

P: +64 7 974 4740
E: sales@analytica.co.nz

Ruakura Research Centre,
10 Bisley Road, Private Bag 3123,
Hamilton 3214
New Zealand


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