Key Points:

A beekeeper has been charged with selling food unfit for human consumption after his toxic honey allegedly caused convulsions and violent seizures.

Whangamata beekeeper Kevin Prout will appear in Waihi District Court on March 3, facing four charges under the Food Act .

Last April the Food Safety Authority (FSA) confirmed that tutu toxins in honeycomb from Mr Prout's Projen Apiary in Whangamata, marketed as "A Taste of Whangamata Pure Honey", poisoned 22 people.

FSA tests found the honey contained high levels of the toxic substances tutin and its derivative hyenanchin.

Toxic honey is caused when bees feed on "honeydew" secreted from the rear end of tiny sap-sucking vine-hopper insects feeding on the tutu plant.

The honey is dangerous and outbreaks of honey poisoning have been documented for over a century, mainly in the Coromandel, eastern Bay of Plenty and Marlborough Sounds during hot dry summers, when vine hopper numbers are high.

Beekeepers are supposed to remove their hives from risk areas when toxic honeydew is abundant.

But Mr Prout was a hobby apiarist who had been selling honey for only about five months before the scare.

The last honey poisoning case before that was in 1991.

Each of the charges Prout faces carry a maximum penalty of $3000.

- NZPA