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Food Safety Focus (145th Issue, August 2018) – Food Incident Highlight

Honey Should Not Contain Antibiotic Metronidazole

In mid-July 2018, a consumer group issued a report on honey samples available in Hong Kong which found that some samples failed to comply with the Codex Standard for Honey, including labelling and contaminants requirements.  Between 2015 and June 2018, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS)’s routine Food Surveillance Programme collected over 130 honey samples for chemical and microbiological tests.  All samples passed the analysis except for one which contained antibiotic metronidazole.  The CFS has instructed the concerned vendor to stop selling the affected product.

Honey is produced by bees collecting nectars in flowers or honeydrew, and mixing with their own secretions.  In order to prevent and treat bacterial infection in bees, bee farmers may use different types of antibiotics (or antimicrobials).  Inappropriate use of antibiotics will lead to accumulation of antibiotic in honey.  Traders are advised to ensure that food for sale is fit for human consumption and meets legal requirements.  Public are advised to buy honey from reliable shops and apiary.  Infants under one year old should not consume honey as their digestive systems are not fully developed and will be at risk of contracting botulism.