The results

Published: Thursday 30 September 2010

The results

  • Multiple antibiotics in high amounts were found in 11 out of the 12 samples. All 11 samples failed the antibiotics standards set by the Indian government’s Export Inspection Council (EIC) for exported honey.

  • The two imported honey samples were also highly contaminated with antibiotics. Both would have failed their own domestic standards.

  • The only sample in which no antibiotic residues were detected was Hitkari Honey of Hitkari Pharmacy, Delhi. This is a small company involved in the seasonal honey business.

  • The fact that more than one antibiotic was found in the samples indicates that the practice is to collect honey from different sources and then blend them before packing and distributing for sale. So one does not know from where the honey has been sourced.

  • There is a need to regulate and monitor the level of antibiotics in honey being sold in the domestic market, as continuous long-term exposure to low levels of antibiotics could in due course lead to antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria, making their treatment difficult.

Antibiotics present

  • OXYTETRACYCLINE (OTC): In 50 per cent of the samples (6 out of 12). Ranging from 27.1-250.4 microgramme per kg (μg/kg), which is almost 3-25 times higher than the 10 μg/kg EIC standard.

  • CHLORAMPHENICOL: In 25 per cent of the samples (3 out of 12). In the range of 3.6-4.4 μg/kg, which is 12-15 times higher than the 0.3 μg/kg EIC standard.

  • AMPICILLIN: In 67 per cent of the samples (8 out of 12). Concentrations of 10.1-614.2 μg/kg. No standard for ampicillin in honey in any country as it is not supposed to be used in beekeeping. Ampicillin, therefore, is an unauthorised and illegal substance in honey.

  • ENROFLOXACIN: In 10 out of 12 samples (83 per cent). Ranging between 10.9-144.8 μg/kg. No standard. Illegally present.

  • CIPROFLOXACIN: Found only in Baidyanath Wild Flower Honey. Level 19.9 μg/kg. No standard. Illegally present.

  • ERYTHROMYCIN: In 5 out of 12 samples (42 per cent). In the range of 69.7-280.3 μg/kg. No standard. Illegally present.

Brand-wise performance

  • DABUR HONEY: Had three of the six antibiotics tested. 91.3 μg/kg of OTC, which is nine times the EIC standard. 26.6 μg/kg of ampicillin and 88.7 μg/kg of enrofloxacin. Sample non-compliant with EIC standards. Would be rejected if placed for exports.

  • HIMALAYA FOREST HONEY: Three antibiotics detected. 23.8 μg/kg of ampicillin, 63.8 μg/kg of enrofloxacin and 69.7 μg/kg of erythromycin. Sample non-compliant, as there are no standards.

  • MEHSONS PURE HONEY: Had two antibiotics. 58.3 μg/kg of enrofloxacin residues. 85 μg/kg of erythromycin. Sample non-compliant.

  • HIMFLORA GOLD HONEY: Two antibiotics detected. 35.5 μg/kg of ampicillin and 37.7 μg/kg of enrofloxacin.

  • PATANJALI PURE HONEY: Contaminated with four antibiotics. OTC at a level of 27.2 μg/kg, almost three times the EIC standard. Also had 30.5 μg/kg of ampicillin, 75.17 μg/kg of enrofloxacin and 186 μg/kg of erythromycin.

  • BAIDYANATH WILD FLOWER HONEY: Two antibiotics detected. Ciprofloxacin in a concentration of 19.9 μg/kg and ampicillin at a level of 25.2 μg/kg. Sample non-compliant, as there are no standards.

  • KHADI HONEY: Had three antibiotics. Highest level of OTC. 250.4 μg/kg, which is 25 times the EIC standard. Also had 10.1 μg/kg of ampicillin and 10.9 μg/kg of enrofloxacin.

  • GOLD HONEY: Four antibiotics detected. 57.7 μg/kg of OTC, almost six times the EIC standard. Chloramphenicol at the highest level of 4.4 μg/kg (15 times higher than the EIC standard). Enrofloxacin and erythromycin found at levels of 34.3 μg/kg and 231.3 μg/kg, respectively.

  • HITKARI HONEY: No antibiotics detected.

  • UMANG HONEY: Two antibiotics found. 208.1 μg/kg of ampicillin and 122.1 μg/kg of enrofloxacin. Sample noncompliant with EIC standards.

  • CAPILANO PURE & NATURAL HONEY: Three antibiotics detected. OTC at a level of 150.8 μg/kg - 15 times the EIC standard, but within the Australian standard of 300 μg/kg. 3.6 μg/kg of chloramphenicol (12 times over the EIC standard). Interestingly, chloramphenicol is banned for food production in Australia. Enrofloxacin at a level of 144.8 μg/kg. Sample non-compliant with EIC export standards as well as Australian standards.

  • NECTAFLOR NATURAL BLOSSOM HONEY: Of the six antibiotics tested, the highest number—five—detected. 112.0 μg/kg of OTC, 11 times the EIC standard. Chloramphenicol, banned by the EU, detected at a level of 3.6 μg/kg, which is 12 times over the EIC standard. Highest levels of ampicillin and erythromycin at concentrations of 614.2 μg/kg and 280.3 μg/kg, respectively. Enrofloxacin too at a level of 56.1 μg/kg. Sample non-compliant with the EIC as well as EU regulations.


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