Honey is a functional food with health-beneficial properties and it is already used as a medical device in wound care management. Whether ingested orally or applied topically, honey must fulfill the requirements of international standards based on physicochemical characteristics. However, there is an urgent need for some additional standards reflecting biological properties. The aim of the study was to evaluate the antibacterial activity of 36 commercial honey samples purchased from supermarkets and local food shops and compare their efficacy to that of three honey samples from local beekeepers and three types of medical-grade honey. Furthermore, the hydrogen peroxide (H2
) content and protein profile were assessed in all honey samples. Analysis of the antibacterial activity of commercial honeys revealed that 44% of tested samples exhibited low antibacterial activity, identical to the activity of artificial honey (sugars only). There was a significant correlation between the overall antibacterial activity and H2
content of honey samples. However, in some cases, honey samples exhibited high antibacterial activity while generating low levels of H2
and vice versa. Honey samples from local beekeepers showed superior antibacterial activity compared to medical-grade honeys. The antibacterial activity of honey can be easily altered by adulteration, thermal treatment or prolonged storage, and therefore it fulfils strict criteria to be suitable new additional quality standard.
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