Poison honey not so sweet

A beekeeper from NZ’s Whangamata has been charged with selling food unfit for human consumption after 22 people were allegedly poisoned by his honeycomb.

Beekeeper Kevin Prout will appear in Waihi District Court on March 3 on four charges under the Food Act.

The Food Safety Authority said that tutu toxins in honeycomb from Prout’s Projen Apiary last year caused those who consumed it to suffer convulsions and violent seizures.

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 NZ native tutu plant.

The honey is dangerous and can be fatal.

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

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

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