Food Chemistry, Vol. 63, No. 4, pp. 549±562, 1998 # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved Printed in Great Britain 0308-8146/98 $19.00+0.00 Analytical, Nutritional and Clinical Methods Section
A review of the analytical methods to determine the geographical and botanical origin of honey
European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre,Environment Institute, I-21020 Ispra, Italy (Received 21 November 1997; accepted 11 February 1998) This review is concerned with analytical methods to prove the authenticity of honey. A special emphasis is put on suitable methods for the detection of the geographical and botanical origin of honey. Whereas the determination of some single parameters, such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), moisture, enzymeactivity, nitrogen, mono- and disaccharides, and residues from medicinal treatment or pesticides in honey does not lead to any information about the botanical and geographical origin, there are some suitable methods based on the analysis of speci®c components or on multi-component analysis. Mostly, such methods give indications of the botanical origin, investigating ¯avonoids patterns,distribution of pollen, aroma compounds and special marker compounds. There are some other pro®les of components which could probably be used for the detection of the geographical origin (e.g. oligosaccharides, amino acids, trace elements). In particular, the combination of methods could be a promising approach to prove authenticity, especially when modern statistical data evaluation techniques will beapplied. # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION The Commission of the European Union (EU) has adopted a proposal to amend the Council Directive 74/ 409/EEC concerning honey. This Directive laying down common rules for the composition and manufacture of honey will be supplemented by not preventing information referring to the product's: `¯oral or vegetable origin, being statedif the product comes essentially from the indicated source and possesses its organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic characteristics; regional, territorial or topographical origin, if the product comes entirely from the indicated source; speci®c quality criteria.' The Commission of the EU is encouraging the development of harmonized analytical methods to permit the veri®cation of compliancewith the quality speci®cations for the dierent honeys. This work is concerned with the investigation of the suitability of analytical methods which allow the determination of the botanical and geographical origin. The existing methods described in the literature are evaluated. The conclusions of this study may facilitate further analytical work in order to prevent fraud and to protect authentichoney samples. Honey is produced by honey bees from nectar of plants, as well as from honey dew. Some of the components (carbohydrates, water, traces of organic acids, enzymes, amino acids, pigments, pollen and wax) are
due to maturation of the honey, some are added by the bees and some of them are derived from the plants. Honey of the same ¯oral source can vary due to seasonal climaticvariations or to a dierent geographical origin. In addition to the de®nition of honey according to the Codex Alimentarius (1981), there are additional de®nitions in the regulations of various countries and in the EU (Molan, 1996). Various physical types (pressed, centrifuged, drained) and forms (comb, chunk, crystallized or granulated, creamed, heat processed) of honey are on the market. Rawhoney contains extraneous matter, such as pollen, traces of wax, variable amounts of sugar-tolerant yeasts, and probably crystals of dextrose hydrate. Unless the moisture content is below 17%, no fermentation takes place. Most honey will crystallize in time unless action is taken to prevent it. The processing of honey, thus includes controlled heating to destroy yeasts and dissolve dextrose...