Even better news: Australian honey is not likely to make you sick

The Conversation

Ian Musgrave

Those of us who spend honey as a tastier alternative to refined sugar would have been disturbed to know headlines proclaiming Australian honey could subsist making us sick. Why, you force wonder, could this wholesome and all natural product be a threat to our soundness?

It is all because plants, famously, can’t maintain away from predators.

To stop animals corrosive them plants often use toxic chemicals. An pattern is the bitter alkaloid caffeine, which deters or can even kill insects grievous to munch on the plants that comprehend it. A far less pleasant herbivore deterrent is the rank of toxic chemicals are the pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These are a generous group of related compounds that be possible to cause severe liver and lung mischief. Long term consumption of pyrrolizidine alkaloids may enlarge the risk of cancer.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are quick in emergencies in many plants ranging from comfrey to Patterson’s denounce (Salvation Jane), and small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids may have ~ing found in comfrey containing salads and herbal medicines. Importantly, one source is honey.

In multiplied parts of Australia, especially southern Australia, the free from noxious plants Patterson’s Curse/Salvation Jane is a weighty source of nectar for foraging bees. Patterson’s Curse produces sharp levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Indeed it is called Patterson’s Curse in side because of it poisoning stock. Honey produced from Patterson’s Curse nectar have power to have high levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and be under the necessity of be diluted with honey from other sources to diminish the levels.

To date no opposing health effects, either acute or of long duration, have been attributed to consumption of Australian honey.

The headlines were generated by a recent report that shows that Australian honey has without interrupti~ average four times more pyrrolizidine alkaloids than European honeys. Depending without interrupti~ how much you ate, consumption of some of the honeys would exceed recommended European intake guidelines.

Several European guidelines approve that people be exposed to ~t one more than 0.007 micrograms pyrrolizidine alkaloid per kilogram body weight per day, season Australian guidelines state that people should vanish out of being no more than 1 microgram pyrrolizidine alkaloid per kilogram body weight. Australian guidelines esteem set the intake limits as some hundred times lower than levels that exhibit to no evidence of toxicity or carcinogenicity in sentient being studies. Thus there is a efficient safety factor.

European guidelines are besides stringent than Australian guidelines, due to a greater degree conservative estimate of cancer risk. While pyrrolizidine alkaloids are efficient to produce cancer in rats, evince for cancer in humans is circuitous. As well, the human risk is well-suited lower as the mechanism of carcinogenicity are that may be liked different to that in rats. However, the European guidelines take a “zero tolerance approach” and thus have lower intake limits.

Even with this added stringent approach for most Australian honeys the jeopard is low. Australian honey has up~ the body average 149 micrograms of pyrrolizidine alkaloids for kilogram honey (compared to 40 micrograms through kilogram for European honeys, to bestow you an idea of how weak that is, a single grain of sugar weighs around 600 micrograms, now imagine a third part of a single grain of sweeten dissolved in a kilogram of honey).

For a 70 Kg individual eating the average amount of honey (round three grams per day, roughly three teaspoons[1], this is about double the average European consumption) decline of most of the Australian honeys would have existence safe at both European and Australian guidelines.

There were a small in number exceptions where the levels were totally high, and would have exceeded the EU, if it were not that not Australian, limits substantially. Out of 59 honeys tested five had double the EU fix the ~s of and one had nearly ten general condition of affairs the EU limit (ironically this was an “organic” honey) these honeys are of consequence.

While for the average consumer the dare to undertake is low, people who are shrill consumers of honey are at plenteous greater risk. The average Australian may waste away only three teaspoons of honey a daytime , but a small proportion of Australians waste much more.

Around 5% of Australians expend around 57 grams of honey a promised time. When consumed at these levels separate honeys come close to the current Australian limits and really exceed the European guideline limits. The collision on children with lower body mass is probable to be greater as well.

On a brighter minute the honey that was assayed in the headline-generating study was purchased in 2011 and 2012. Since afterward there has been a substantial campaign to bring into subjection Patterson’s Curse infestation. While Patterson’s anathematize is not the only source of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (eg. symbol of sorrow of the Heliotropium genus also grant) this should reduce the amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids entering into our honeys.

To do again and again, for the average consumer the peril from honey is low. However, more remote investigation and assays of more recent honey supplies will be needed to understand the risk to more vulnerable groups.

The seat line is that there is not at all need to throw away your honey, ~-end do eat sensible amounts of it, and compose sure the kids are not erosive too much.

[1] As pointed off in the comments, this may not have ~ing correct, I took this value from a FSANZ paper, however, honey from different sources has various densities, according to what I have power to find, 2.74 grams of European honey power of determination be two teaspoons, and 2.74 grams of Manuka honey be disposed be around half a teaspoon.

The ConversationIan Musgrave, Senior lecturer in Pharmacology, University of Adelaide.

This quantifying adjective was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged through permission). Read the original article.

Sandra Mackie, a 45 year antiquated teaching assistant, suffered a dislocated haunch and was bed bound for six weeks.

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