Toxic compounds in honey

Md Nazmul Islam, Md Ibrahim Khalil, Md Asiful Islam, Siew Hua Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is a wealth of information about the nutritional and medicinal properties of honey. However, honey may contain compounds that may lead to toxicity. A compound not naturally present in honey, named 5‐hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), may be formed during the heating or preservation processes of honey. HMF has gained much interest, as it is commonly detected in honey samples, especially samples that have been stored for a long time. HMF is a compound that may be mutagenic, carcinogenic and cytotoxic. It has also been reported that honey can be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium. Honey produced from the nectar of Rhododendron ponticum contains alkaloids that can be poisonous to humans, while honey collected from Andromeda flowers contains grayanotoxins, which can cause paralysis of limbs in humans and eventually leads to death. In addition, Melicope ternata and Coriaria arborea from New Zealand produce toxic honey that can be fatal. There are reports that honey is not safe to be consumed when it is collected from Datura plants (from Mexico and Hungary), belladonna flowers and Hyoscamus niger plants (from Hungary), Serjania lethalis (from Brazil), Gelsemium sempervirens (from the American Southwest), Kalmia latifolia, Tripetalia paniculata and Ledum palustre. Although the symptoms of poisoning due to honey consumption may differ depending on the source of toxins, most common symptoms generally include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, headache, palpitations or even death. It has been suggested that honey should not be considered a completely safe food. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-742
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Volume34
Issue number7
Early online date11 Nov 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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    Islam, M. N., Khalil, M. I., Islam, M. A., & Gan, S. H. (2014). Toxic compounds in honey. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 34(7), 733-742. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.2952