The presence of antibiotics residues in honey is problematic because they may pose potential risks to human health. Of such major concerns are: allergic reactions, and cancer, antibiotic resistance in humans, toxic effects and damage to the central nervous system. Moreover, the use of antimicrobial compounds in food chains has been banned or restricted by many countries, and no market authorisation may be obtained without maximum residue limits (MRL). Australia, India, and the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) have set MRL for only Oxytetracycline in honey at 300 ppb. Whereas, in the European Union regulation No 37/2010, no maximum residue limit (MRL) for tetracycline in honey has been set.
This study was conducted upon FELCOS Umbria request within the Project “BEE THE CHANGE” to detect the OTC residue levels in honey samples that were collected from Ramallah and Jenin over 2 years (2018-2019). The samples were extracted by solid phase extraction for OTC clean up. Then the extract were analysed for OTC by using HPLC method, with C8 analytical column, consisting of acetonitrile-0.02 M oxalic acid as a mobile phase.
In 2018, the results demonstrated that 45% products from Jenin and 20% from Ramallah were containing OTC in the range (862.1-2,177.2 ppb) and (212.6-5460.1 ppb), respectively. However, in 2019, a tremendous decrease in the OTC detection was noticed as only one sample from each city was positive that represent less than 5% (Jenin, 273.9 ppb and Ramallah, 349.6 ppb). In conclusion, there was a dramatic increase in the bee-keepers’ awareness for the antibiotics usage as reflected in the figures between 2018 and 2019, not only in the positive samples but also the concentration of less than 350 ppb in 2019.
The above results indicate that the antibiotics residues can be easily managed and even the risk from OTC antibiotic residues in honey is not particularly high, a more detailed research need to be considered specially to detect the other antibiotics like the chloramphenicol and Sulphonamides to maximize the health benefits and marketability of Palestinian Honey.