Microbial and antibiotic contaminants in imported and locally produced honey in the tamale metropolis of the Northern Region of Ghana
Honey remains a valued natural product and has been used by humans as an important food source, disease treatment, and a healthy sugar source since ancient times. However, recent reports on the adulteration of honey and honey polluted with contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, microorganisms as well as antibiotics have gained public attention. Thus, this study aimed to assess the quality and safety of imported and locally produced honey by specifically determining microbial and antibiotic contaminants as well as the beekeeping practices of honey producers within some locations of the Tamale metropolis. A semi-structured questionnaire was designed to gather information on the sources of honey, knowledge of diseases affecting bees, knowledge of contamination of honey, and knowledge of antibiotics use in honey production from honey producers in the study area. The procedures outlined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission were followed to ascertain the microbial quality of the honey samples. Also, the Premi® test kit was used to determine the presence of antibiotics residue in the honey samples. Only eight honey producers were identified in the study area; they all had knowledge on contamination of honey. Only two (25 %) of the honey producers had knowledge on diseases affecting bees and also the use of antibiotics in beekeeping or honey production. Concerning microbial contaminants, Listeria spp., Lactobacillus spp., Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, Clostridium spp., Campylobacter spp., and Staphylococcus spp. were the microorganisms enumerated upon microbiological quality assessment of 30 honey samples. Furthermore, 27 (90 %) of the honey samples tested positive for the presence of antibiotics residue of which 6 (85.7 %) were sampled from imported source, whilst the remaining 21 (91.3 %) were locally produced. Microbial and antibiotic contaminants found in the honey sampled in the study area support the hypothesis that honey may not be as pure as might be perceived and this might be a public health concern. Again, since there is no available record on the screening or antibiotic residue in honey found on the Ghanaian market, this research is timely and necessary to provide the basis for
intervention policies on the minimum limits of antibiotic residues present in honey.
Key words: Antibiotic, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Contaminants, Honey, Listeria, Microorganism, Residues, Tamale Metropolis
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