C4 Sugars

This test is used internationally to detect whether honey has been adulterated by adding sugar (mainly cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup).  

Sugars produced from tropical plants like sugar cane and maize/corn are produced using a photosynthetic pathway referred to as the C4 pathway.  Nectar which is collected by bees comes from plants that use a different process of photosynthesis, referred to as the C3 pathway.  There is a measurable difference in the ratio of the naturally occurring carbon-12 and carbon-13 isotopes in sugars arising from the C3 and C4 pathways, and this test uses this difference to identify whether C4 sugar appears to have been added to the honey.

The test reports an apparent C4 sugar content, and there is an internationally accepted limit for apparent C4 sugar content (as measured by this test) of 7%.

In recent years it has been shown that Manuka honeys can have an apparent C4 sugar test result that is higher than 7%, even when it is clear that no sugar has been added.  Ongoing research is being undertaken to investigate this, and perhaps identify an alternative way of detecting sugar adulteration.  In the meantime, this remains as an important test for access to some international markets.

Please note, this test is designed for pure honey only. Honey with organic additives (e.g. ginger, berries, etc.) are not suitable for this test.

Click here to read more about C4 Sugars in an article written by one of our technologists for The New Zealand Beekeeper Journal. 

How does Analytica conduct the test

Protein (mainly derived from pollen) is extracted from honey by precipitation, and is analysed for its carbon-12 to carbon-13 ratio.  The carbon-12 to carbon-13 ratio is also analysed in the whole honey, and the difference between the values for whole honey and protein is used to calculate the apparent C4 sugar content.

Analytica uses Isotope Ratio Mass Spectroscopy and Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy to carry out this testing, conforming to the internationally recognised AOAC standard method.
 

A new option for c4 sugar testing

Analytica Laboratories is now offering a low cost Screening Test for C4 Sugar in honey, as well as the current Reference Method Test which meets the requirements of AOAC 998.12.

Priced at $60 + GST per sample, the Screening Test is a cost effective option suited to testing honey at extraction, when buying or selling, and prior to blending. The Reference Method Test, which fully conforms to the AOAC 998.12 standard, continues to be available for $140 + GST with a reduced level of variability. It will be preferred by those needing a higher level of precision and/or a test certificate based on this internationally recognised method. 

Click here for more information regarding the two C4 Sugar Testing options. 

Why Use Analytica?

Analytica offers significantly reduced turnaround time, highly competitive prices, and strong client support.

How Much & How Long Will it Take

Test / Price / Turnaround
C4 Sugars AOAC Reference Method
$140.00 per sample
5 Days
C4 Sugars Screen
$60.00 per sample
5 Days

* Prices in NZ$ exclusive of GST. We can offer discounts for large batches of samples. Please contact us to discuss. 
** Target turnaround time = the number of working days we expect to elapse between when we receive your sample(s), and when we email your test report. Urgent samples - please contact the laboratory as soon as you become aware of a need for urgent testing so that we can make plans with you to help meet your needs. 


How to take and submit a sample

How to take and submit a sample


To have your honey tested, send approximately 50g of honey in a plastic pottle with a screw lid.  A representative sample is required.  The sample should not contain wax.

Download and complete our Analysis Request Form either in PDF format or as a Word document, and send it along with your samples to:

Analytica Laboratories Ltd
Ruakura Research Centre
10 Bisley Road,
Hamilton 3240 
New Zealand

Analysis Request Form | PDF

Analysis Request Form | WORD

Don’t forget to label each sample container with a unique name or code, matching the Sample Identification that you write on the Analysis Request Form. We will invoice you when we report your results. 

Please email the Sample Reception team at sample.receipt@analytica.co.nz if you are sending more than 40 samples to make the most of our testing prices and turnaround times.

To send samples from overseas, please see our instructions and import permits.

*For some ideas on collecting a representative honey sample, have a look at this article published in 'The New Zealand BeeKeeper'.


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


IANZ Accredited Laboratory

Copyright 2017 Analytica Laboratories Limited

Duotone Design