Tutin Composite Testing

Test Description

Tutin is a neurotoxin that originates from the sap, leaves, and seeds of the native plant Tutu of the genus Coriaria. When symptoms of toxic honey poisoning were reported to be similar to that of tutin poisoning, this plant became a suspected source of the toxin contained in honey. Further investigation revealed that tutin contaminates honey when bees collect honeydew excreted by the insect Scolypopa australis, otherwise known as the passion vine hopper, whilst feeding on the Tutu plant. This insect is only found in warmer climates, hence toxic honey is more prevalent during summer.

As a preventative measure, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) introduced food safety regulations requiring honey to be tested for tutin to ensure toxic honey is not ingested by the consumer. MPI have established a maximum residue level (MRL) of 0.7 mg/kg of tutin in both honey and honeycomb. It is now a legal requirement in New Zealand that all honey for sale or export must comply with these regulations.

Tutin Composite Testing

Composite testing is a cost-effective method of simultaneously testing multiple honey samples for tutin. Individual honey samples are submitted to the laboratory and combined into a single composite sample for analysis. This approach can be performed on a maximum of 10 samples per composite. The tutin concentration of the composite sample will be indicative of either all samples having a MRL of below 0.7 mg/kg or at least one sample exceeding this limit. If a composite sample exceeds its respective MRL, then each individual sample will need to be tested to determine which sample is above the MRL.

Test Methodology

LC-MS/MS In-house procedure.

IANZ Accredited?


Standard Turnaround Time

1 working day following receipt of sample.


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