A few years ago when honey was tested for antibiotics it was found that almost all the branded honey was contaminated with antibiotics like Chloramphenicol, Ciprofloxacin and Erythromycin. Antibiotics are regularly given to bees to prevent diseases. They also help to promote growth and increase volumes to meet commercial requirements.
When honey is consumed on a regular basis then contaminated honey can build drug resistance so that when prescribed those antibiotics they may not work. Besides drug resistance, the antibiotic contaminated honey could lead to blood related diseases and could damage the kidney, liver, bone and teeth over time since honey is given even to children for its health benefits.
Honey meant for export has to meet the standards of the Export Inspection Council. The European Union banned the import of Indian honey because it did not meet standards. However, there were no standards for domestic honey, so foreign brands were selling antibiotic contaminated honey in India. FSSAI has therefore been working on the standards for honey so that honey is safe for the consumer.
Draft notification for fixing standards for Antibiotics in Honey, had been notified on 5th December 2012 for seeking public comments. After keeping in mind the objections and suggestions FSSAI has made amendments to Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011 and the amended regulations will be called Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Amendment Regulations 2014. These amendments will come into force 60 days after their publication in the Official Gazette.
The changes have been made in The Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011 in regulation 2.3 in sub- regulation 2.3.2 relating to Antibiotics under Pharmacologically active substances.
The list of Antibiotics along with the prescribed tolerance limits in Honey have been defined in the following table when determined by LC-MS/MS method:
|Sr. No.||Name of Antibiotics||Tolerance Limit (Microgram/Kg)|
|2||Nitrofurans and its metabolites||0.5* (Either individually or collectively)|
|3||Sulphonamides and its metabolites||5.0* (Either individually or collectively)|
|*Limit of Quantification on the basis of LC-MS/MS method".|
Earlier, the guidelines for Honey were governed under the Standards prescribed under Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules (PFA) 1955.