Metals are pollutant residues detectable in honey and in fact account for most of the inorganic pollutants found in this food product. Metal pollutants can be accumulated through the food chain and, at levels exceeding safe thresholds, can be toxic to humans and even damage physiological functions. During the honey-making process, bees can transport pollutants to the beehive following contact with polluted botanic species or from drinking contaminated water. Detecting very low concentrations is a persisting challenge to accurately measure these elements in honey. Additionally, since honey is a complex organic matrix, treatments are needed prior to applying any classical chemical methods for metal determination, such as inductively coupled plasma and atomic absorption spectroscopy. Therefore, optimal results are dependent on adequate sample conditioning prior to heavy metal content analyses. Chemical pretreatments include calcination processes and/or acid digestion. Regarding execution, the last steps of any metal detection methodology are the primary determinants of result quality, where any loss of mass is reflected by unreliable values.
Part of the book: Honey Analysis