The government is putting in place safety standards for honey after it has been found that lots, even those sold by top brands, had traces of antibiotics and pesticides in them.
The Food And Safety Standards of India (FSSAI) will soon make it mandatory that honey samples conform to these regulatory measures before they can be declared safe for consumption.
The new standards have been approved by the scientific committee of the experts and are likely to be notified soon by the government. While the new standards specify that there “should not be any residue of antibiotics in honey”, the FSSAI will also list down antibiotics that should remain absent from honey before it is made available for the consumers.
The standards for honey prescribed under prevention of food adulteration rules only specify the maximum limits of heavy metal etc. So far, there are no standards for antibiotics in honey in India. In last few years, there have been reports of antibiotic contamination in honey exported from India and also in honey available in the domestic market.
Earlier, the food and feed control authorities of the member states of the EU had also found Indian honey contaminated with prohibited antibiotics, like nitrofuran and chloramphenicol, tetracycline and streptomycin.
Experts say even that recently the samples picked up by FSSAI too found antibiotic residue in honey. “The laboratories will have a clear mandate. The list of antibiotics will be given based on limit of quantification,” FSSAI CEO V.N. Gaur said.
Those manufacturers which are found not conforming to the standards and thereby making it “unsafe” will face imprisonment and severe punishment that may include closing down of manufacturing unit.
Experts say that move gains significance keeping in view the recent reports of drug resistant bugs present in India. “The presence of antibiotics unnecessarily enhances immunity which could harm the body in the long run. The problem of presence of drug resistance bugs can also not be ignored,” said a senior official.
Source: The Asian Age