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J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Mar 26;62(12):2605-14. doi: 10.1021/jf404766f. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

Investigating C-4 sugar contamination of manuka honey and other New Zealand honey varieties using carbon isotopes.

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  • 1National Isotope Centre, GNS Science, 30 Gracefield Road, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand.


Carbon isotopes (δ(13)C honey and δ(13)C protein) and apparent C-4 sugar contents of 1023 New Zealand honeys from 15 different floral types were analyzed to investigate which New Zealand honey is prone to failing the AOAC 998.12 C-4 sugar test and evaluate the occurrence of false-positive results. Of the 333 honey samples that exceeded the 7% C-4 sugar threshold, 324 samples of these were New Zealand manuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium, 97.2% of all fails found in the study). Three monofloral honeys (ling, kamahi, and tawari) had nine samples (2.8% of all fails found in the study) with apparent C-4 sugars exceeding 7%. All other floral types analyzed did not display C-4 sugar fails. False-positive results were found to occur for higher activity New Zealand manuka honey with a methylglyoxal content >250 mg/kg or a nonperoxide activity >10+, and for some ling, kamahi and tawari honeys. Recommendations for future interpretation of the AOAC 998.12 C-4 sugar method are proposed.

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