National Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey
What is it?
The sensory analysis of honey is an evolved discipline as much as that applied to wine, oil or cheese and represents one of the key points of the research activity in the study of characterization and promotion of honey. Italy is the country where this science has developed and the only one in the world where there is also an official list of experts in this discipline: the National Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey (hereinafter referred to as "Register").
The Register, established with Ministerial Decree no. 21547 of 28 May 1999 (previously managed by the National Institute of Apiculture, now integrated into the Council for the Research in Agriculture and Economy (CREA)), has the specific task of defining and enhancing the figure of the honey taster and the honey itself through in-depth knowledge of the product.
The priority purposes of the Register are therefore the training of tasters and the recognition of the role and professionalism of the experts in sensory analysis of honey, through courses, experiments and application of new methodologies, qualifying them to be part of tasting panels.
Maintaining the acquired professionalism are also important objectives in order to guarantee an adequate and uniform professional base of the members over time. This objective is pursued through the information and updating activities, carried out through meetings intended to strengthen and refine knowledge on honey. These activities are carried out by teachers trained and recognized by the Register and by experts in various aspects of sensory analysis.
Two different bodies in terms of competences and levels of intervention are responsible for carrying out and coordinating the activities of the Register: the Central Office and the Management Committee.
See the “Register rules" (only in Italian): http://www.albomiele.it/index.php/albo/disciplinare/
N.B. The wording CRA-API is reported in the pdf document. It should be noted that since 2017 the CREA-API Beekeeping and Silkworm Research Unit (formerly CRA-API) has been assigned to the CREA-Agriculture and Environment Research Center.
What does it offer
From the beginning of the application of sensory analysis to honey, the importance of this technique emerged as a unique and irreplaceable means for evaluating the product. Even at a purely scientific level, studies in this sector have taken on greater and greater value. Specialist meetings have taken place with the goal of making sure the methods of sensory analysis are based on science and as subjective as possible, in particular with the establishment of the specific Working Group (Sensory Analysis Working Group) within the IHC (International Honey Commission - http://www.ihc-platform.net/).
Sensory analysis of honey, in addition to teaching to taste and recognize unifloral and multifloral honeys and to properly evaluate qualities and defects, is an irreplaceable promotional source for honey that can be implemented at different levels, first of all the organization of quality competitions.
The tasting technique adopted in Italy has aroused international interest, testified by continuous requests from around abroad to run courses on honey analysis. Enthusiasts, consumers, producers, vendors, technicians and researchers from all over the world are attending training courses to become experts in this field. With the wide range of experience gained from different nationalities the analysis community increases its depth of knowledge.
The Register organizes three courses: introduction course to the sensory analysis of honey; advanced course - I level; advanced course - II level (exam course). The trainee acquires the knowledge and professionalism to carry out qualitative assessments and express opinions on the botanical origin of honey. It is therefore an useful tool for the researcher to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the product aimed at creating rational parameters useful to evaluate and define the different types of honey in a clear and recognizable way. Staff in official positions can learn how to verify the presence of defects and compliance of botanical declaration when handling honey. Beekeepers can learn how to improve the quality of their product, recognising possible defects and how to prevent them whilst ensuring correct labelling. Consumers can be educated in making a more considered choice, savouring the thousand nuances of smell, taste and aroma.
How to register
To enroll in the Register, candidates must follow the three courses accredited by the Register. The last course includes the exam which consists of mostly practical tests on the recognition of the different types of honey, but also theoretical on the knowledge of the product. No special requirements are needed to start this process.
The first of the three courses, 'Introduction to the sensory analysis of honey' lasting 28 hours, is an interesting and insightful experience for all honey lovers and users. It is not necessary to continue with further courses unless you wish to become enrolled in the Register.
The courses accredited by the Register are organized by different entities; to get an overview of the courses scheduled, you can consult the website of the Register http://www.albomiele.it/index.php/corsi-di-introduzione/
Further information can be found on the web page www.albomiele.it.