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ScienceDaily (May 13, 2009)
A team of chemists from the University of Almería (UAL) has developed a method to simultaneously detect the presence of 17 antibiotics in honey within less than 10 minutes. The researchers have shown that traces of antibiotics used to treat diseases among bees can be found in some commercial honey brands.
"The development of these multi-residue methods is very useful, since it makes it possible to detect the various groups of antibiotics within a sample, and with just one analysis", stresses Garrido. In addition, the chromatography analysis takes less than 10 minutes, "which means it could be routinely used in laboratories."
The researcher points out that European legislation today establishes a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to the presence of antibiotic residues in honey, and the analytical methods devised by the study help to identify these compounds at the lowest levels possible. The technique developed by the chemists at the UAL means they can be identified at concentrations of between 0.1 and 1 microgram per kilo of honey, depending upon the type of antibiotic.
Garrido stresses that the low concentrations of antibiotics detected "do not represent a direct risk to the consumer," but warns that excessive or undue use of these veterinary products could have an affect on food security.