The aim of this chapter is to describe the most commonly used techniques to evaluate the microbiological characteristics of honey for the purpose of identifying its contaminant flora, its significance and its control in this type of food. Honey is a product that is rich in simple sugars, minerals, vitamins and bioactive compounds and possesses an antimicrobial activity of great significance for human health. However, as it has physical and chemical properties that are unfavourable for the proliferation of micro-flora, honey can contain a large population of microorganisms from two sources of contamination—the first primarily represented by pollen, the digestive system of the bee, dust, air and the flower itself; and the second as the result of negligence and the absence of good health practices during handling and use; for example, placing honey in wooden beehives directly on the floor or the use of improperly washed honey extraction equipment, rather than equipment based on the oxidizable material, or using very dark honeycombs and storing the honey for long periods in wooden beehives. As honey is a natural product, the risks inherent to the lack of industrial processing, such as pasteurization and strict microbiological quality control, are often overlooked.
Part of the book: Honey Analysis