South Africa bans importation of possibly contaminated Zambian honey

SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has banned importation of pure honey from Zambia after authorities detected possible contamination of a consignment with American Foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) disease, reports Lusaka Times.

The ban, announced by the South African agriculture department through a letter to honey importers has elicited dissatisfactory observation from both the authorities and Zambian citizens.

A letter to South African importers of pure Zambian honey stated that audit samples from a consignment from a farm called Musonda Chitalu and Forest Fruite, detected Paenibacillus larvae (American Foulbrood).

The authorities ordered that all consignments from Zambia should be subjected to irradiation and withdrawal of all imports permits allowing pure honey from Zambia.

But according to Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba, extensive work was done to demonstrate that Zambia did not have such a disease present in its honey.

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He said if Zambian honey were subjected to irradiation as being proposed, it would lose its treasure and intrinsic value which ranked it as pure, organic, and natural and a factor which gave it a choice presence on the market.

Lack of protocol

The commissioner criticized South Africa’s decision to restrict market access for Zambia’s pure honey with others saying the ban was done outside procedures and trade regulations

According to him, honey from the country is exported to other markets with stringent regulations such as the European Union.

“We export to other markets with stringent regulations such as the European Union, and if Zambia’s honey had such a disease, it would have been difficult for us to do so.

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“We will pursue this matter through bilateral and diplomatic means and urgently to ensure that the ban is lifted as soon as possible.

“Our farmers have been benefiting from the export since 2015 when the earlier ban was lifted and this will hurt their income,” he said.

He said the procedure to impose the ban were breached and no official letter has been written to competent authorities in Zambia as required by trade protocols.

No official results of the analysis and copy of import airway bill were provided for Zambia to authenticate and verify the source of such a consignment eliciting doubts of whether the matter was a misconduct of traders who sometimes mix various imports of honey products from other countries.

He has urged the authorities in South Africa to immediately reverse the ban on importation of pure honey until the laid down procedures and verification are done between experts from both countries.

American Foulbrood is a serious bacterial disease capable of killing a bee colony, it has no cure and once detected must be destroyed to prevent the disease spreading.

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