The honey industry in Malaysia is facing a challenge to identify the number of fake goods on the market, a number that may constitute up to 90 per cent of products sold in Malaysia, said a local honey expert.
"The biggest challenge of the honey industry now is the presence of artificial honey, which reaches 90 per cent in the market," said Dr Zulkifli Mustafa, a senior lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
"To identify real honey, laboratory tests are required."
Dr Zulkifli, a researcher at USM's Department of Neurosciences in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, was speaking during an interview with a local radio station. The interview was recorded by a university circular published on Jan 29 promoting the consumption of honey from stingless bees.
He said his research showed that honey from stingless bees, a species that bites instead of stinging for self-defence, contains a variety of nutrients that could have multiple health benefits.
"Honey is a complete food in terms of energy, protein, vitamins, good bacteria and anti-oxidants," said Dr Zulkifli. "Stingless bee honey can relieve inflammation due to bacterial infection, stress, obesity and ageing as well as chronic diseases."
He added that honey from stingless bees, also known as kelulut in Malay, had a uniquely sweet and sour taste with a flowery or fruity aroma.
Dr Zulkifli has written and published journal articles on the benefits of stingless bee honey but also the adulteration of honey products with vinegar to mimic its taste.
He said around 4,000 breeders were working with USM's application and commercial arm Brainey to produce authentic stingless bee honey for consumers.
"Strict quality control guarantees the authenticity and consistency of the honey," he added.