Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Recent uproar about antibiotic tainted honey seems to have opened up a Pandora's box and many culprits responsible for this fraud have been apprehended in Europe and the US. While China was blamed for this sorry episode of spreading honey products produced by treating the bees with antibiotic drugs, commonly used in treating human diseases, India was also implicated because of the presence of four types of antibiotics in honey marketed in this country. Whether these products were of Chinese origin or produced within India can at best be a matter of speculation because of the total apathy shown by the safety agencies responsible to prevent such episodes. Here is a take on the response by FSSAI to the reports about tainted honey which is nothing but prevarication and shirking of responsibility.

"The permitted levels of antibiotics for honey in India are almost equivalent to international levels, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India asserted in a statement issued here Wednesday. 'In the matter of admissibility of antibiotics in honey, safety standards in India are similar to those in the European Union, Codex Alimentarius (collection of internationally recognized food safety standards) and the US - where they are completely prohibited,' the statement said. It said that standards for honey have been prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules (1955), which mention limits for different categories like sucrose and fructose-glucose ratio. Last month, the Centre for Science and Environment, a voluntary group, revealed that leading Indian and foreign brands of honey have high levels of antibiotics".

While the public would have liked to hear assurance from this bureaucrat dominated body, what they got was quoting of the rules under PFA! No one disputed the fact that Indian standards are on par with those enunciated by Codex Commission but by not taking action through country wide investigation, seizure of tainted honey and punishing the culprits, the Authority seems to have washed of its hands through the above bland press release, not worth a dime. Fortunately honey consumption in India is so low that even if antibiotic containing honey is marketed in the country it is unlikely to have any major impact. Of course this does not absolve neither those indulging in this practice nor the safety agency that appears to be a silent spectator, of the responsibility for this fraud.



rahul said...

dear sir,
this blog is very interesting ,now a days food safety issue is becoming more critical day by day .can u write more about detection of antibiotics in honey and ill effects of it on human body?.

Dr. V.H . Potty said...

Antibiotics are tested by microbiological assays using selective organisms. Its presence in commonly consumed foods can contribute to resistance and under such a condition these antibiotics will not work when necessary.