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FSSAI Introduces Standards for Antibiotics in Honey

Standards for Antibiotics in Honey

FSSAI License is mandatory for all type of food business. If you are planning to start the business of producing honey or re-labelling or any other activities, then you should apply for FSSAI license and you are also required to follow the FSSAI packaging and labelling guidelines. Here we tell you FSSAI Licensing & Standards for Antibiotics in Honey.

Honey is a food substance that is produced by bees and some related insects. Studies have often shown that honey when consumed on a regular basis has many health benefits and is used for treating wounds, burn, and cough and for various medicinal purposes.

Introduction to Standards for Antibiotics in Honey

In recent years, various tests were conducted on honey for antibiotics and it was revealed that most of the honey sold by various brands were contaminated by adding sugar syrups and other compounds for reducing the cost of production and to stave off crystallization.  Also, traces of antibiotics like Chloramphenicol, Ciprofloxacin, and Erythromycin were found in it.

These Antibiotics are regularly given to bees to prevent diseases and for increasing the volumes to meet commercial requirements. Consumption of this contaminated honey leads to blood-related diseases and may also cause damage to the kidney, liver, bone, and teeth over time as honey is usually given even to children as it has many health related benefits.

 Standards for Antibiotics in Honey

In recent years many European countries banned the import of Indian honey because it did not meet their standards but continued to sell their own brands of honey containing antibiotics in India for there were no strict regulations for honey in India.

To deal with these issues and for improving the safety standards for honey, FSSAI came up with regulations called the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulations, 2011[1] which came into force on August 5, 2011.

Standards for Antibiotics in Honey: Limit of Antibiotics

The limit of antibiotics in Honey shall be determined by the LC-MS/MS methods, on the basis of Limit of Quantification and it shall not exceed the tolerance limit as given below:—

Nitrofurans and metabolites


Sulphonamides and its metabolites














Tetracycline :

  • Oxytetracycline
  • Chlortetracycline




It also provides that when there is a visual inspection of honey it should appear free from any foreign matter such as dirt, pieces of beeswax, suspended particles, scum or the fragments of bees and other insects and any extraneous matter like food additives such as color, vitamins, minerals, and saccharin.

Along with the above-mentioned requirements, Honey Manufacturers and Distributors are required to abide by the Standards of Honey under AGMARK as provided in the FSSAI Advisory Standards for Honey and Prohibition of Antibiotics. FSSAI Registration is mandatory for sale and manufacturing of honey in India.

Standards for Antibiotics in Honey: Grading System for Honey

A grading system for honey has been laid down under AGMARK by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation for indicating the quality of honey. They are as follows:

  • Special
  • Grade–A
  • Standard

The Grading / Certification specifies the method in which it is packed, marked and labelled and conditions under which the certificate of authorization is granted.

AGMARK Grading: Packaging Requirements of Honey

AGMARK grading also specifies the packaging requirements for honey.  They are:

Packaging Requirements of Honey
  • That honey should be packed in new clean glass containers or China-ware lacquered cans or tin container which should be Acid Resistant and such other food containers as may be approved by the Agricultural Marketing Adviser from time to time.
  • The packing material should be closed and sealed.
  • The manner and the pack size in which the honey is packed should be as per instructions issued by the Agricultural Marketing Adviser.
  • The containers should not be wholly or partly made up of any material which is of any poisonous or injurious to health.
  • The containers should be free from insect infestation, fungal contamination or any other foul and undesirable smell. The sealed caps should be made of a non-corrosive and non-reactive material to honey.


It may be noted that about 90000 tones of honey of various varieties are produced every year in India. There are more than five lakh people who are engaged in this business. Therefore food safety regulatory authority considered it wise to introduce standards for antibiotics in Honey.

Read our article: What is the Procedure for Getting an FSSAI License Number?

Ashish M. Shaji

Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.

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