Drug Residue Testing in the Honey Market
The worldwide food and drink industry is one of the largest of the manufacturing sectors. It is the largest within the UK, accounting for 15% of all manufacturing and a total turnover of over £70bn (1), which ranks the UK's food and drink industry as fourth in the world (2). Spending on food and drink increases year after year, accounting for a large percentage of customer expenditure. As such a large industry, this sector employs 13% of the UK manufacturing workforce alone (1).
A large food testing market exists, with a wide range of tests available. Drug residues have been regularly tested under government initiatives since the early 1980s, when reports confirmed the potential damage residues could cause to human health. Drug residue testing is performed in public and private laboratories, with many large retail chains and producers creating in-house laboratories.
A recent report highlights that the global honey market is to exceed 1.9 million tons by 2015 (3). Honey is a popular food choice due to the increasing awareness of health knowledge and the consumer's desire to have healthy and natural food produce. Europe and Asia dominate the global honey market. In 2007, the UK honey market was worth £67m and within the sweet spreads sector, came only second to jam, overtaking marmalade (3). However, due to increased prices and the recent Chinese contaminated honey incident, the market has been in decline since 2003 (4).
The majority of honey production is within the developing world, whilst the majority of honey consumption is in the developed world. Europe is the world's largest consumer of honey, with an annual increase of 1.6% (4). Although it relies heavily on imports as it only produces 50% of what it consumes (4). Within Europe, Germany is the largest consumer of honey and has the largest honey market (4).
Antimicrobial compounds have been used in food production to treat infections and to function as growth promoters. Serious health concerns exist about the presence of antimicrobial compounds in food and the development of antibiotic resistant strains of micro-organisms due to inappropriate use in food producing animals. As a result of these concerns, many countries have banned or limited the use of antimicrobial compounds in food producing animals and have set maximum residue limits (MRLs) for antimicrobial residues in food.
Antibiotics are used in apiculture to treat bacterial foulbrood diseases, for example American Foulbrood (AFB). AFB is caused by Paenibacillus larvae bacteria, which infect and kill bee larvae. AFB is highly infectious, deadly and difficult to eliminate. Antimicrobial drugs are effective against foulbrood diseases, however antibiotic drug residues in honey pose a potential risk to human health. As a result, the use of sulphonamides in apiculture is usually strictly regulated or banned. Recent import alerts in the USA over antibiotic drug use in honey have led to an increase in drug residue surveillance and a demand for rapid, sensitive screening methods for antibiotic drug residues.
It is clear to see that a reliable and cost-effective screening method is required within the honey testing industry to ensure that the produce on our shelves is safe for consumers. Many countries have set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for levels of residue in honey. In order to be imported and sold, honey must comply with these regulations. Laboratories testing for residues in honey samples need a method that is not only reliable and quick but cost-effective as well. Biochip Array Technology from Randox offers a unique multiplex screening system, allowing simultaneous detection of multiple analytes from a single sample. Randox Antimicrobial Arrays I, II & III along with a wide range of ELISA screening kits offer a comprehensive screening package for antimicrobials in honey. These screening solutions all offer excellent limit of detections along with a simple sample preparation.
- Antimicrobial Array I Cat. No: EV3523
- Antimicrobial Array II Cat. No: EV3524
- Antimicrobial Array III Cat. No: EV3695
- Sulphaquinoxaline ELISA Cat. No: SQ2145
- Sulphadiazine ELISA Cat. No: SZ2147
- Sulphamethazine ELISA Cat. No: SM2146
- Sulphamethoxazole ELISA Cat. No: SZ3471
- Beta Lactam ELISA Cat. No: BL3448
- Chloramphenicol ELISA Cat. No: CN1469
- Quinolones ELISA Cat. No: QL3454
- Flumequine ELISA Cat. No: FQ3460
- AOZ ELISA Cat. No: NF3465
- AMOZ ELISA Cat. No: NF3462
- AHD ELISA Cat. No: NF3463
- SEM ELISA Cat. No: NF3461
- Streptomycin ELISA Cat. No: STP3468
- 1. David Boothley, et al., 2007, 'Research into UK Food and Drink Manufacturing', ADAS UK Ltd
- 2. Defra website, 2009, www.defra.gov.uk
- 3. Karen Willmer, 2007, 'Sales of Honey Rise, Marmalade Drop', Confectionary News
- 4. SADC Trade, Trade Information Brief, Honey, 2007