Small quantity of pesticides found in honey samples

After analysing 150 samples of honey purchased from the markets of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, they found 12% of them (18 samples) contain pesticides in small quantities.

Several brands of honey sold in the market contain traces of pesticides, Indian scientists have found.

After analysing 150 samples of honey purchased from the markets of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, they found 12% of them (18 samples) contain pesticides in small quantities.

A bulk (about 72%) of the contaminated samples contained organophosphates followed by organochlorines, including fipronil and synthetic pyretheroids.

The frequently detected pesticides were monocrotophos (four samples) followed by dichlorvos (three). Chlorpyrifos, profenofos, ethion and lindane were found in two samples each.

Although the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India hasn't fixed a "maximum residue limit" for pesticides in honey yet and the amount detected is in trace quantities, the scientists said it was still a matter of health concern because nobody knew the cumulative effect of these pesticides, if consumed for a long time.

"Considering the possible accumulative effects of substances with similar mode of action and customary (traditional and cultural) feeding of honey to the infants, old and ill people in India, precautionary measures should always be taken in the foreseeable future to safeguard consumers health," the researchers reported in the latest issue of the journal Current Science.

How did the pesticides find their way to the honey? The researchers said the widespread and indiscriminate use of pesticides over the years contaminate blossoms from which honey bees collect nectar for honey production.

Bees on their foraging expeditions also pickup and transfer pollutants from contaminated water and soil to their respective hives. This may result in the transfer of pesticide residues to honey and finally to consumers

Scientists from CSK HP Agricultural University, Palampur and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, didn't disclose the brand names.

In their report, they said the samples comprised branded honey (certified and uncertified) sold in retail markets and unbranded, processed honey sold by traders, self-help groups, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Agricultural Universities), co-operative societies and roadside vendors.

Out of the 150 samples, only 59 had certification.

For laboratory tests, they employed QuEChERS— a solid phase extraction method commonly used for detection of pesticide residues in food besides chromatography studies.

In the process, they established a standard protocol for testing and validating more honey samples.

The new report comes five years after New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment showed presence of low level of antibiotics in 11 common brands of honey – out of 12 – picked up from the market.

 

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Small quantity of pesticides found in honey samples

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