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Open AccessAbstract

Analysis of Environmental Contaminants in Australian Honey and Comparison to Stingless Bee Honey from Queensland and Malaysia

1
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), The University of Queensland, Health and Food Sciences Precinct, Coopers Plains, Qld 4108, Australia
2
Forensic and Scientific Services, Queensland Health, Coopers Plains, Qld 4108, Australia
3
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Health and Food Sciences Precinct, Coopers Plains, Qld 4108, Australia
4
Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, UPM Serdang 43400, Selangor, Malaysia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the third International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TROPAG 2019), Brisbane, Australia, 11–13 November 2019.
Proceedings 2019, 36(1), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/proceedings2019036101 (registering DOI)
Published: 13 February 2020
Honey is a widely available natural sweetener containing sugars, and small quantities of
vitamins and minerals, proteins, amino acids and fatty acids. Owing to its nutritious components,
commercial honeys are sold in bulk blends or as trendy and premium products. Meanwhile, honey
bees are considered as environmental monitors and have the potential to transfer environmental
contaminants, if present, to honey. In high density urban and industrial environments polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals can be prevalent, whilst pesticides and mineral
and trace elements are ubiquitous. Honey hives are traditionally located in rural and forested areas,
but there is a growing trend to locate hives in urban areas. This project has investigated the presence
of environmental contaminants in honey samples from high density urban, peri-urban as well as
rural areas. Australian honey samples (n = 211) were purchased between 2016 and 2018, including
52 honeys claiming to be of urban origin purchased online. Stingless bee honeys (n = 36) from
Queensland and Malaysia were compared. Processed samples were analysed by UHPLC-MS/MS
(herbicides), GC-MS/MS (pesticides and PAHs) and ICP-MS and ICP-OES (elemental analyses). The
results showed low or negligible pesticide, herbicide, and PAH contamination, and that these low
results were similar regardless of urban or rural origins. Wide variations of essential trace element
(Fe, Zn, Cu, Mo, Co, Mn, Cr) and mineral levels (K, Na, P, Mg, Ca) were found in honey products,
which are a good dietary source of K and Zn. Relatively low levels of toxic heavy metals were found
in honeys.
Keywords: honey; environmental contaminants; Queensland; Malaysia; stingless bee honey honey; environmental contaminants; Queensland; Malaysia; stingless bee honey
MDPI and ACS Style

Hungerford, N.L.; Tan, B.L.L.; Tinggi, U.; Zawawi, N.; Farrell, M.; Tsai, H.H.; Hnatko, D.; Swann, L.J.; Kelly, C.L.; R. Anuj, S.; Webber, D.C.; T. Were, S.; T. Fletcher, M. Analysis of Environmental Contaminants in Australian Honey and Comparison to Stingless Bee Honey from Queensland and Malaysia. Proceedings 2019, 36, 101.

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