Tutin is a toxic compound found in some honey, where bees have had access to the NZ native Tutu plant (Coriara genus). After a number of people were hospitalised after eating honey containing Tutin, the Ministry for Primary Industries brought in food safety regulations requiring honey to be tested for Tutin.
Toxic honey can be produced during the summer if bees collect honeydew secreted by passion vine hopper insects that are feeding on the sap of Tutu plants. MPI have established a maximum residue level (MRL) of 0.7 mg/kg of tutin in honey to protect people eating honey, and testing of honey produced in many areas of NZ is required before honey is able to be sold.
Analytica has developed a sensitive method for testing honey for tutin, which can be used to test for Tutin in individual or composite samples. Analytica is approved by MPI to carry out this testing.
When individual samples are tested, Tutin concentration is reported to a detection limit of 0.02 mg/kg.
For composite testing, individual samples are submitted to the laboratory, and up to 10 of these individual samples are carefully combined into a single composite sample for analysis. The Tutin concentration in the composite sample will identify that either all individual samples in the composite will be below the MRL of 0.7 mg/kg, or that at least one of the samples in the composite is likely to have a concentration of Tutin that is above the MRL of 0.7 mg/kg. If a composite sample has a high Tutin result, further testing of the individual samples needs to be done to identify which of them are above the MRL.
This method can be used in all honey types. It can also be used in comb, liquid, and creamed honey.
How does Analytica conduct the test
Following dilution in water and extraction, the honey sample is analysed for tutin residue using Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
Tutin is an ISO 17025 and MPI accredited test.