Both brands had responded to CSE's investigation where they failed the NMR test (it checks for honey's purity) conducted at a German laboratory.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has responded to statements from Dabur and Patanjali on CSE’s investigation into the adulteration of honey and their honey samples failing the NMR test conducted by a German laboratory.
On 2 December 2020, the CSE revealed that it had chosen honey samples of 13 brands to undergo the NMR test at a German laboratory to check for purity. Only three brands passed the test and one of them was big brand Saffola Honey. The remaining including giants like Dabur Honey and Patanjali Honey did not clear the test.
Meanwhile, on 3 December 2020, Dabur in a statement said it had cleared all the 22 FSSAI-mandated tests, including SMR, besides voluntarily conducting NMR test periodically to ensure that its consumers get 100% Pure honey with no added sugar/syrups or any other adulterants.
The CSE in response to Dabur’s claim about maligning its brand and that its honey is NMR passed from Germany and is meeting Indian standards said:
The NMR test report available on Dabur’s website and shared with media in support of the company’s statement is a report of the Bruker equipment/machine for NMR profiling. Bruker is a company which developed NMR and promotes it. We would like to make the consumer aware that this is not a laboratory report, which involves expert interpretation of the information by the equipment.
In the case of NMR, it is critical that the final conclusion on a sample’s adulteration is based on interpretation and confirmation by a laboratory expert on NMR. Even the report shared by Dabur mentions that expert interpretation is necessary before deducing any conclusion.
CSE has shared the findings based on laboratory reports from Germany, which involves expert interpretation and confirmation of the data obtained by the machine/equipment. This is a universally accepted practice.
Dabur has shared the report of only one sample. Also, there is no mention of the batch number of the sample tested. So, it remains unclear which batch is being talked about.
On the other hand, we have provided three batch numbers of three samples tested of Dabur; that is BM3463, with the date of manufacture of May 25, 2020; BM3589, manufactured on July 10, 2020; and BM3636, manufactured on August 5, 2020. All three batches were found to be adulterated. In the absence of this information on laboratory test by the batch number, Dabur’s claim of purity is not tenable.
We have also noted that Dabur is constantly changing the language on its claims regarding NMR tests. In earlier advertisements, it has said “NMR tested, pure honey”; as of today -- after the release of the CSE investigation -- Dabur is claiming “source NMR tested”. “Is this jugglery another attempt to confuse the consumer?” asks CSE director general Sunita Narain.
Response to Patanjali
In response to Patanjali which in the media had accused CSE of promoting German technology:
NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) is an advanced test that can detect adulteration with modified sugar syrups, which may otherwise go undetected. It is being used in different parts of the world for the same reason and even the Indian government has mandated it since August 2020 for honey meant to be exported.
So, it could be important to include such advanced testing in government testing system that can help the enforcement agencies to know if the honey sold to consumers is adulterated or not. It can also help the agencies know which companies are selling adulterated honey, which is a crime, and take required punitive action against the defaulters.