Friday, 8 October 2010

India Issues Standards For Honey

Recently some reports have been appeared in the newspapers regarding the permitted levels of antibiotics in honey. The following advisory is issued by Food Safety and Standards Authority to clarify the issues involved.

Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions of plants.

When visually inspected, the honey shall be free from any foreign matter such as mould, dirt, scum, pieces of beeswax, the fragments of bees and other insects and from any other extraneous matter.

The colour of honey varies from light to dark brown.

            Standards for honey have been prescribed under Prevention Food Adulteration (PFA) Rules, 1955 as under.

(a) Specific gravity at 27OC                         Not less than 1.35

(b) Moisture                                                 Not more than 25 per cent by mass

(c) Total reducing sugars                             Not less than 65 per cent by mass

(c-i) for Carbia colossa and Honey dew      Not less than 60 per cent by mass

(d) Sucrose                                                   Not more than to 5.0 per cent by mass

(d-i) for Carbia colossa and Honey dew     Not more than 10 per cent by mass

(e) Fructose-glucose ratio                           Not less than 0.95

(f) Ash                                                          Not more than 0.5 percent by mass

(g) Acidity (Expressed as formic acid)        Not more than 0.2 per cent by mass

(h) Fiehe's test                                            Negative

(iHydroxy methyl furfural(HMF),                   Not more than 80mg/kg


If Fiehe's test is positive, and hydroxy methyl furfural (HMF) content is more than 80 milligram/kilogram, then fructose: glucose ratio should be 1.0 or more.

Rule 44 D provides for restriction on sale of Carbia Callosa and Honey dew. Carbia Collosa and Honey dew shall be sold only in sealed containers bearing AGMARK seal.

Rule 45 specifies that food resembling but not pure honey cannot be marked as honey. No person shall use the word „Honey or any word, mark, illustration or device that suggests “Honey on the label or any package of, or in any advertisement for, any food that resembles honey but is not pure honey.

Violation of the provisions of PFA Act/Rules attracts penal action.

            No pesticide residues or antibiotics are allowed in honey.

            The maximum limits of heavy metals in various foods are prescribed under PFA Rules, 1955. Rule 57 of PFA Rules prescribes the limits of contaminants under category “Foods not specified” (which includes honey) as follows:-

1. Lead                        Not more than 2.5 ppm

2. Copper                    Not more than 30.0 ppm

3. Arsenic                    Not more than 1.1 ppm

4. Tin                           Not more than 250.0 ppm

5. Zinc                         Not more than 50.0 ppm

6. Cadmium                Not more than 1.5 ppm

7. Mercury                  Not more than 1.0 ppm

8. Methyl Mercury     Not more than 0.25 ppm

Standards of Honey under AGMARK

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has laid down standards of honey under the Grading and Marking Rules (AGMARK), which lays down the grades, designation of honey as Special, Grade–A and Standard to indicate the quality of honey for the purpose of certification. It specifies the method of packing, marking and labeling and conditions for grant of certificate for authorization. The standards of AGMARK are voluntary.

In the matter of admissibility of antibiotics in honey, safety standards in India are similar to those in European Union, Codex Alimentarius and USA where they are completely prohibited.


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