Honey is a viscous sweet substance produced by bees from the secretions of plant nectars. It is a product from some regions of Mexico as a sugar supplement and for therapeutic purposes. Honey contains fructose and glucose with low level of water activity and high osmotic potential in humidity. In Mexico apiculture contains high economic and social value wherein forty five thousand producers depend on it. That accounts for almost 19 million beehives placing Mexico as the fifth producing and third exporting country in the world. Microbial characteristics of honey are the built-in biota of bees from the nectar of different flowers that kept overtime. This particular research study evaluates the microbial community of honey produced in Mexico.
Microbial Biota of Honey
Microbial contamination of honey occurs during extraction and handling including dust, air, dirt, flowers and digestive tract of honey bees. Microorganisms commonly found include Bacillus spp., Clostridium spp., Corynebacterium spp., Pseudomonas spp. and some bacteria found in sugars and plants. The official standard in Mexico stated that no more than 1000 CFU/g of non-pathogenic bacteria and 100 CFU/g of molds and yeast are acceptable. Since Mexico is one of the main honey producers that comprised at least 86 thousand tons to be exported.
The study reveals that out of 1,920 samples of honey 40.5% exceeded the limits permitted by the regulatory board. For the yeast and molds 18.1% and 17% of the samples showed more than 100 CFU/g respectively. With regard to Clostridium 12% the samples contained more than 100 CFU/g due to the bees contamination, nectar and external sources. There have been observations also that bee gut contains 27% gram positive bacteria including several species of Clostridium. Although honey has high osmolarity and low water activity yet development of microorganisms found on several sources. However, microbial contamination caused by handlers, equipment and crossed contamination can be controlled by standard sanitation and good manufacturing practices.
Since it reveals that over 40% from the samples did not complies specification for the presence of aerobic mesophilic bacteria. It gives emphasis to local producers the proper handling and minimizing the sources of contamination so it can fit the standard. If honey is used for therapeutic purposes better quality is vital and fulfills quality parameters to remove pathogens. Mexican honey of great percentage has been exported that is why maintaining good hygienic practices during manufacturing is very important.
Sources: Prepared by Joan Tura from Revista Argentina de Microbiología
Volume 50, Issue 1 January–March 2018, Pages 75-80