Honey has been considered as a very important and superior nutrient in human nutrition since ancient times due to its ability to be consumed by humans without processing, easy digestibility, nutritional properties and biological benefits. Although honey contains many desired bioactive and antibacterial substances, which may be sufficient for antimicrobial activity, it cannot be produced in sufficient quantities due to low water activity under normal conditions. This causes various food and bee-borne spores/non-spores pathogens going viral. Hence, it may cause the risk of parasitological and fungal agents to be found. In honey production, “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)” must be applied meticulously and completely. Current technologies in honey production will be explained in this section.
- honey production
- microbiological risks
Honey consumption has a very old history for humans. It has been used as a sweetener and flavoring in countless food and beverages. Since ancient times, honey has been known for its nutritious and therapeutic aspects. The most important components of honey are carbohydrates, which are found in the form of fructose, glucose, disaccharides, and oligosaccharides, and components such as maltose, isomaltose, maltulose, sucrose provide the sweet taste to honey. It also contains enzymes such as amylase, oxidase peroxide, catalase and acid phosphorylase, including anderosis and panoz. Also, honey is rich in amino acids, minerals, antioxidants and various phytochemicals . Many of the reported biological properties of honey, such as antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungicidal, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, antiproliferative, hepato-protective properties of these components are associated with presence of these properties. However, the composition of honey largely depends on a number of factors, such as flower source, geographical region, climatic conditions, harvesting season, processing and storage conditions. There are studies that report that honey, administered alone or in combination with traditional therapy, may be useful in the treatment of chronic diseases that are commonly associated with oxidative stress and the state of inflammation . Honey is classified according to various criteria. In this classification, honey is classified as secretion honey (such as pine honey, oak honey, fir honey, leaf honey) and flower honey (linden honey, cotton honey, trirose honey, thyme honey, mashed honey, acacia honey, heather honey, etc.). According to the form of marketing, framed comb honey, natural comb honey, partial comb honey, cut-comb honey, strained honey, crystallized honey, creamed honey, pressed honey, chunk honey (strained with comb or comb with strained), filtered honey and baker’s honey. According to the moisture content, honey is classified as grade 1 honeys (humidity below 17.8%), grade 2 honeys (humidity up to 18.6%) and grade 3 honeys (humidity up to 20%). According to their color, honey is classified as white, golden, amber and dark. The color of honey can vary from light water white to black warehouse . The physical and chemical properties, antimicrobial effects, which are of great importance for public health, and GMP and HACCP systems applied in the production process and microbiological dangers will be addressed in this section.
1.1 Physical and chemical properties of honey
Honey contains about 200 substances and is a nutrient consisting of substances such as carbohydrates, water, enzymes, free amino acids, essential minerals, vitamins, phenolic compounds, volatile compounds (monoterpenes, benzene derivatives) and some other solids. Carbohydrates in honey are mainly monosaccharides, glucose and fructose. This is followed by disaccharides and trisaccharides. They contribute mainly to the energy value. Proteins include enzymes such as invertase, diastase, glucose oxidase, catalase, peroxidase and acid phosphatase, and their content varies from 0.1% to 3.3% depending on the type of honey. It contains essential and non-essential amino acids, but the most common amino acid in honey is proline, which accounts for 1% of honey components . Honey contains tocopherol (E), anti-hemorrhagic vitamin (K), ascorbic acid (C), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and a small amount of vitamin pyridoxine (B6). Vitamins of the B complex and vitamin C are mainly derived from pollen and can be affected by commercial and industrial processes such as filtration or oxidation reactions .
Honey has a slight acid reaction due to about 0.57% organic acids. Acids contribute to the aroma and antimicrobial activity of honey. The predominant acid in honey is gluconic acid, it is followed by aspartic citric, acetic, formic, fumaric, galacturonic, malonic, formic, acetoglutaric, glutamic, butyric, glutaric, propionic, pyruvic, glioxia, 2-hydroxybutyric, a-hydroxiglutaric, isocyric, lactic, malic, methylmalonic, kynic, succinic, tartaric, oxalic acid . The mineral content in honey ranges from 0.04% in light honey and 0.2% in dark honey. Potassium is the most abundant element. But the main bioactive molecules contained in honey are represented by polyphenols. Polyphenols are a heterogeneous chemical compound that can be divided into flavonoids (flavonols, flavones, flavanols, flavanones, anthocyanin, calcones and isoflavones) and non-flavonoid (phenolic acids). The profile of polyphenolic compounds in honey is thoroughly studied and includes vanillin, caffeic, syringing, p-gamic, ferulic, ellagic, 3-hydroxybenzoic, chlorogenic, genistic, gallic and benzoic acids and contains different phenolic acids, such as different flavonoids, mainly quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, chrysin, galangin, hesperetin. The amount and type of polyphenols largely depends on the flower source or the variety of honey. In addition, it is known that there is a strong relationship between antioxidant activity and total phenolic content .
1.2 The importance of honey in terms of health and its antimicrobial effect
Honey is a food that has been used in therapeutic treatments for thousands of years. Among other useful properties to health, this product has been reported as a promising agent for wound healing, including leg ulcers and eyes, skin disorders by in vitro and clinical studies. In studies on New Zealand manuka honey, unique to the New Zealand, positive effects were observed on the viability of potentially useful
Various parameters such as low water activity, high sugar content, acidity and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) content, phytochemicals, peptides, non-peroxidase glycoeptides and proteins make up the antibacterial potential of honey. Water activity of honey varies from 0.56–0.62. These values might be considered low enough to prevent the development of bacteria or other microorganisms . Although previously it was believed that the only responsible agent for the antibacterial effect of diluted honey was H2O2 and that this antibacterial effect can be completely eliminated through catalysis, it has been found out that bacteria can also be affected via the existence of pythochemical elements present in honey . As it suppresses the activities of bacteria causing infections in urinary systems, such as
Honey shows antibacterial activity against a large number of bacteria in different environments. Natural components of honey have antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial activities. It has been reported that the antibacterial activity of honey is also likely to depend on the pasture, climatic conditions, and also on the natural composition of flower nectar. Honey has excellent antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant
2. Other beekeeping products
Pollen is the only source of protein found in nature for bees. The amino acids contained in its composition are isolosin, arginine, lysine, histidine, leucine, methionine, treonine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine. It is essential for adequate development of their muscles, tissues, secretory glands and other organs in the upbringing of honeybees and its young stages. It is a nutritional source rich in vitamins, proteins, sterols, minerals and lipids. It has been reported that pollen collected by honeybees may have differences in their general chemical composition as a result of supplying from different plants .
Bees have two stomach and they use one of them to perform normal body functions whereas the other to store the nectar they collect. In order to collect nectar found in flowers, bees use rod-like, tubular long tongues. It has been reported that bees can contain about 70 mg of nectar in the stomach they store nectar, and that they should visit 100 to 1500 different flowers to fully fill their honey stomach .
Propolis is recognized as a therapeutic agent due to several reported functional effectiveness. It is known that honey contains phenolic compounds. Propolis contains a higher content of phenolic compounds than honey and shows significantly higher antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. Today it is used in industry as a component of confectionery, biopharmaceuticals and cosmetics. It is gaining popularity as a natural preservative and helps to improve shelf life and consumer health as a source of bioactive compounds for food and drinks. However, propolis has a strong and bitter taste, which changes the sensory properties of food due to the high concentration of phenolic compounds. Therefore, the acceptance of foods containing propolis by consumers must be determined by its propolis concentration, which has to be carefully researched so as not to adversely change the sensory properties of such foods .
2.4 Bee milk
The importance of bee milk, one of bee products, was noticed in the 1600s and was given the name “
3. Microbiological risks in honey and honey products
Although honey is considered a low-risk food due to its antimicrobial and bacteriostatic effects, studies disprove this view. In addition to primary contamination, staff, tools and equipment used in beekeeping and honey production are also a potential source of secondary contamination. In addition, honey, which has the potential to contain many microorganisms as a result of cross-contamination, is among the important nutrients and can indirectly threaten public health. Despite the fact that some types of honey contain H2O2 and benzoic acid and phenolic compounds such as some flavonoids, it can constitute risks for consumer health due to minimal hygiene rules. It is reported that pathogens can be found as causative agents in honey produced without food safety systems. Food-borne pathogens are recognized as an important risk factor for public health in developed and developing countries due to their spread around the world. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and mites are the most common disease factors in beekeeping. Fecal-oral route is an important way of transmission of these diseases. Agents that pollute bees through water and food can be transmitted to larvae by infected bees. Another contamination that may occur in honey is secondary contamination caused by secondary contamination sources such as personnel, tools and equipment .
The presence of strains
One of the animal products that have been the focus of food warnings due to the presence of chemical hazards such as antibiotics or pesticides in recent years are honey and honey products. The source of these residues in honey is mainly due to bee parasites, such as European offspring rot (
4. HACCP in honey production
Food safety can be ensured by systematic implementation of all activities in line with a plan. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, as a preventive system for ensuring food safety, controls production at various points throughout the food production, thereby ensuring that the final product complies with legislation. Preliminary Requirement Program must be created first in order to establish the HACCP system in any food business. In this context, the deficiencies of the infrastructure and processes such as water, energy, warehouse, cleaning and sanitation, personnel, environment and equipment hygiene, personnel training and pest control should be addressed. However, it is necessary to plan the process management by writing down the procedures. The processes that need to be addressed afterwards can be sorted as follows; identification of the HACCP team and a clear definition of the task descriptions by making the managerial organization chart, determination of food safety policy by business management, making an understandable description of the products to be produced, determination of the intended usage method, preparation of a flow diagram and placement plan by HACCP team and verification of this plan at site, analyzing hazards and risks, identification of critical control points, making up of critical limits and monitoring procedures, determination of corrective activities for cases where it is necessary, and the proving or verification of the effectiveness of the system .
Codex Alimentarius Standard and the European Commission allows nomenclature for honeys produced from certain botanical sources if the product comes from the specified origin and has anticipated physicochemical, organoleptic and microscopic properties. The fact that there are different varieties of honey and each has its own production steps, leads to an increase in the limits that need to be controlled. For the import of food products of animal origin, such as honey, EU legislation requires a number of health and national residue monitoring procedures such as HACCP during the production and processing of honey. These requirements are known to be independent of whether honey is organic or traditional. Thus, imported products are intended to meet the standards required for production and trade within EU member countries. Costs, lack of qualified personnel, misinterpretation of EU legislation, lack of laboratory in international standards and improper infrastructure are the main obstacles to being accredited by the EU [27, 28].
Although honey is a product that is part of the low-risk group due to its high sugar content, it should be carefully examined for physical, chemical and biological hazards. In general, the hygiene of the processing area, tool and equipment and personnel in contact with food should be observed as it should be in all food enterprises. Physical hazards such as soil, plant materials, glass materials, tools and equipment are defined as potential hazards to honey. Traces of pesticides and herbicide, beekeeping drugs and antibiotics are chemical hazards. Soil originated
General hygiene rules should be applied effectively to prevent physical, chemical, and microbiological hazards. In hives, legally approved preservatives should be used. Insects and mice should be kept away from hives. During transportation, the vehicles should be cleaned well, in case of the presence of dirt left from the previous use. It is necessary to effectively clean the equipment and work area before and after use. Persons involved in the process should wear a separate clothing to protect the product from contamination caused by clothing or individuals. Especially before and after use, cleaning control of filters must be carried out effectively. In the HACCP plan, the purpose of conducting hazard analysis must be effectively controlled. All potential hazards in each step of the workflow process must be identified and the risk and severity of each identified hazard should be assessed. At this point, it is also necessary to determine the sources of dangers. In a study, corrective activities to prevent and/or eliminate hazards were determined and two critical controls points, “filtration/unloading” and “packaging” were pointed out. Examples of forms used in each HACCP plan and all procedures of the HACCP plan must be provided and monitored [26, 30].
HACCP system, which is successfully implemented in the food industry, is the most effective quality system in terms of the supply of safe products. The purpose of the use of HACCP system is to provide reliable food to the consumer with the desired characteristics and quality. Honey production, which is suitable to be affected by climatic conditions, should be made systematic and controllable by removing traditional methods that are difficult to trace. In this context, the creation of honey workflow process, determining potential hazards, and analyzing hazards, taking necessary precautions, recording the system, providing internationally reliable product guarantee is of great importance for public health as well as for the economies of countries. Effective implementation of the HACCP system in enterprises is inevitable so that retrospective monitoring and recall models can be used in the event of any negativity. In the production processes of foods with high nutritional value as honey, all necessary food safety requirements must be met to protect and improve public health.