Honey You Eat May Be Full Of Antibiotics
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16 September 2010
New Delhi, India
Most Brands Contaminated: Study
If you have been giving your kids honey bought from the market in the hope that it will help boost immunity and fight bacterial infections, here is a shocker. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, most honey brands being sold in the country contain varying amounts of antibiotics, and their consumption over a prolonged period of time could induce resistance to antibiotics, lead to blood disorders and damage the liver.
Antibiotics are used by beekeepers to prevent diseases among bee colonies. In 1965, an Italian species was introduced in India by the Punjab Agriculture University since it was docile and had a much better yield. However, the bees also turned out to be vulnerable to diseases.
The Bitter Facts
Eleven of 12 honey brands studied by the Centre for Science and Environment contained multiple antibiotics Their prolonged use can damage liver, lead to blood-related disorders Beekeepers use antibiotics to prevent diseases among bee colonies
Honey meant for export is put through stringent checks, there are no such norms for that consumed by Indians ‘Cos buy honey, don’t manufacture it’
New Delhi: Oxytetracycline, an antibiotic, is widely being used by beekeepers to get queen bees to lay more eggs. "While there are no checks prescribed for antibiotics in honey, when we procure our stock we are not going to know whether it contains drugs.
The industry has been aware of the problem for the past several years. Most big industries are not concerned with manufacturing and only sell packaged honey. It is only a question of knowing the areas where such methods of bee-rearing are not used," said Nitin Malhotra, general manager, Hitkari Pharmacy, the manufacturer of Hitkari Honey.
Hitkari does not have a huge honey business and only operates in the field seasonally. "We get our honey from small bee owners, those not operating commercially. They work on such a small scale that they cannot think of using antibiotics or pesticides," Malhotra said.
According to Narain, since there are no domestic standards, there is no monitoring. Honey meant for international markets, meanwhile, goes through stringent checks. "The stock that gets rejected for export since it is considered unsafe for consumption is not destroyed, but finds its way back into the domestic market.
There are a total of seven companies that own all commercial bee farms in the country. The European Union has rejected Indian exports several times as they would not meet the required standards. India then set up export standards, but doesn’t really seem to care about what Indians are consuming. However, we have also found out that a lot of the honey is actually coming in from China where costs are comparatively low," she said.
In India, honey is regulated under three legislations that include the prevention of food adulteration rules, 1955, Bureau Of Indian Standards and AGMARK. Anuraag Sharma, director, Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhavan Pvt Ltd, told TOI, "We buy and package honey, not manufacture it.
We subscribe to AGMARK and carry out all checks prescribed under it. However, no specific parameters have been set for antibiotics, so we do not check for those. Checks should actually be carried out at the beekeeping level." Dabur India Ltd and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd refused to comment on the issue.