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NZ company fined for selling Chinese royal jelly under misleading label

05-30-2011 14:56 BJT

WELLINGTON, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A company that imported Chinese powdered royal jelly into New Zealand, and sold it in capsules claiming it was "Made in New Zealand" has been fined 11,400 NZ dollars (9,137 U.S. dollars) for violating the country's Fair Trading Act.

Honey New Zealand (International) Limited admitted two charges of breaching the act in relation to the marketing and distribution of Honey New Zealand Royal Jelly Capsules through stores in Auckland and Christchurch, said a statement from the Commerce Commission.

Honey New Zealand arranged for Chinese powdered royal jelly to be mixed with white beeswax and inserted it into capsules, said the statement.

The product was labelled "Made in New Zealand", carried an image of the New Zealand fern, and a statement that "Honey NZ has over a 90 year history working with premium honey bee products gathered from the heart of untouched native forest and wild field areas of New Zealand".

In fact, the only part of the product that was genuinely from New Zealand was the white beeswax mixed with the royal jelly and the water in the capsule shell, said the statement.

Honey New Zealand admitted in the Auckland District Court that six of the eight raw materials in its royal jelly were sourced from overseas.

In the court judgment, Judge Sinclair said, "In my view the statements made on the label departed significantly from the truth. "

She said, "The label led consumers to believe they were buying a superior New Zealand made product when in fact they were not."

It was the fourth company since May 28 last year to be fined for selling royal jelly in New Zealand and misrepresenting the country of origin.

Commerce Commission enforcement branch manager Greg Allan said royal jelly products claiming to be "Made in New Zealand" could demand a premium.

"Genuine fresh New Zealand royal jelly is considered to be of superior quality. By marketing a cheaper imported Chinese product as New Zealand made, Honey NZ undercut the genuine New Zealand product, harming others in the market and misleading consumers who bought the product," said Allan.

Honey New Zealand stopped distributing the royal jelly product after a Commerce Commission investigation and relabelled its products, said the statement.

Allan said the fine sent "a strong message" that the commission would take action to ensure companies did not disadvantage competitors and mislead consumers with false country of origin claims.

The Commerce Commission withdrew a third charge that the royal jelly was not of the potency claimed. Honey New Zealand unsuccessfully sought costs against the commission in relation to the withdrawn charge.

Royal Jelly, a key active ingredient in dietary supplements, comes from the honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae and is the only known substance to contain 10-Hydroxy-2- Decenoic Acid (10HDA), a fatty acid involved in growth and immunity.

New Zealand royal jelly is believed to be of a high quality, with readings of 10HDA higher than found in royal jelly from other countries.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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