Indian companies sell honey contaminated with antibiotics within the country whereas export cleaner product, a new study has found. Chronic exposure to antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance and lead to blood related disorders, World Health Organisation has said, leading to its ban in food products in Europe and the US.
The Centre for Science and Environment, an NGO, has found different types of antibiotics, commonly used to check bacterial infection, in 12 brands of honey sold through counter including a brand each from Australia and Switzerland, where antibiotics in honey is banned. In all, these brands account for over 95 per cent of honey market in India.
Oxytetracycline was found in 50 per cent of samples in the range of 27 to 250 microgram per kilogram (ug/kg) as against the standard of 10 ug/kg, the standard fixed by the government's Export Inspection Council (EIC).
Another antibiotic Chlorampheniocol, banned by the European Union, was found in 25 per cent samples higher than EIC standard of 0.3 ug/kg.
"Our study shows that honey manufacturers and the government do not care for our people's health," said Sunita Narain, CSE director at a press conference on Tuesday.
It became clear from the finding that honey exported is checked for antibiotics as they are banned in all western countries. The EIC tests between 2005 and March 2010 found antibiotics in five to 24 percent samples, much lower than what the CSE found.
In July, 2010 the European Union banned honey from India after it was found to contain antibiotics and heavy metals.
"No such tests have ever been conducted on honey sold in domestic market," said Chandra Bhushan, CSE's Associate. And, it was not possible as India is yet to notify standards for presence of antibiotics or any other contaminants in honey meant for domestic sale. The existing standards are only for natural quality of honey (for example sucrose content) and labelling.