Antibiotics in honey: FSSAI wants States to check honey samples to make it antibiotics free
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 14: All honey consignments imported into the country will henceforth be tested for presence of antibiotics and other contaminants before they are released into the market for public consumption. Even the local honey brands will be subjected to stringent food quality norms in view of reports of honey being contaminated by antibiotics meant for veterinary use. As many as two dozen antibiotics have been found in different honey samples across the country. Presence of antibiotics in honey will create severe health complications, particularly in children and the aged. The Food Safety and Standards Control Authority of India has dashed off letters to all State governments to ensure that honey sold in the market is pure and clean, free of antibiotics. In its advisory to State governments the FSSAI, which ensures that the food distributed in the market is healthy, has directed them to keep a "strict vigil" on the quality of honey. Since honey is a natural food that can be fed even to infants and the feeble, the FSSAI through new guidelines asks State governments to ensure that only pure honey is available to consumers. "All honey consignments imported into the country or being sold in States should be free of antibiotics. Honey should adhere to the quality parameters prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. The FSSAI has also sought details on the number of contaminated honey samples seized," said Dr Dhir Singh, FSSAI's assistant director-general. The FSSAI wants honey to be just natural honey without any additives, whether deliberate or accidental. Honey itself is a natural antibiotic and has several curative properties. But the presence of artificial antibiotics will rob honey of its natural goodness and turn it into a dangerous potent, even causing cancers and aplastic anaemia, doctors warn. Antibiotics make their way into honey if apiculturists use veterinary antibiotics to treat diseases among bees. Major antibiotic traces found in honey include macrolides, tetracyclines, quinolones and sulfonamides. In some samples erythromycin, tylosin and sulfachlorpyridazine have been noticed. Antibiotics like chloramphenicol cause cancer if consumed in large doses.