An Auckland businessman has been fined more than $26,000 for offences related to making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter.
Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined $26,300 after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act.
A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation found that Towers exported honey worth about $30,000 while not being registered between March 2014 and November 2016.
MPI North Investigations Manager Simon Anderson said Towers operated his business in such a manner that he avoided the normal regulatory controls relating to record-keeping and traceability, as well as failing to operate under a risk management programme to ensure food safety.
"Between March 2016 and December 2017, he also made prohibited therapeutic claims about honey, selling it as high-value manuka honey, and claiming that it had therapeutic properties," Anderson said.
"Claims of this nature normally mean the honey will attract a much higher market value," he said.
"However, such claims cannot be made on honey as there are no scientifically substantiated evidence to support these claims and consumers are misled by this type of labelling," he said.
The honey industry has become a significant primary industry for New Zealand - growing from a $121 million export industry in 2012 to $300m today.