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  1. #1
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    Mar 2013
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    Rainbow City, AL, USA
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    4

    Default Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    I love love love honey, and prefer locally grown. Unfortunately, I am a germophobe, and would like a little reassurance that fresh honey is not going to make me and my family sick. Anyone able to offer any comfort? I'm a scientist by degree...sometimes I know too much for my own good.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Litchfield, CT, USA
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    414

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Honey has a low pH value, making it usually too acidic for most microbes.* Honey also naturally produces hydrogen peroxide when it absorbs moisture, which further makes it hard for bacteria to grow or to spoil the honey. Honey can last years and sometimes even centuries without spoiling. Have some and rest assured you probably have a better chance of getting sick at a restaurant than from a spoonful of honey.
    "Someday we will look back and realize someone was right...and conveniently forget we were the ones that were wrong."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    4,940

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Welcome to Beesource!

    Here's part of what the Mayo Clinic has to say about honey:
    In general, honey is well tolerated in the recommended does and for daily consumption. Honey has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the United States.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hon...SECTION=safety
    Of course, as you might expect from a medical site, then they go on to warn you about every possible side effect. Note they make no distinction between "fresh" honey and processed honey.

    If you do have a child under 1 year of age, you should read that part of the page above in particular.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,503

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    If someone with active Tuberculosis took a spoon out of his mouth and put it in your honey container. The hygroscopic properties of the honey would destroy the pathenogens along with the rest of the facts stated above. Honey has been found in an edible state in the tombs of the Pharoahs. If that is not good enough, I think you should just starve to death and get it over with. Your aruggula growing in a field, your fruit off a tree have far more chance of doing you in, OR YOUR INFANT, than raw honey.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,059

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Yeah... you are overthinking this.... you and the family will be fine.
    Your toothbrush has feces on it (scientifically proven). There's more germs on that than honey.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,254

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    You have come to the right forum. We keep honey for 16 years in different jars. They went thru crystalization in winter and liquid phase in the summer. So far my bees still taking them no problem. I even tasted them and still smell like honey nothing wrong. But with the everyday germs and bacterias we are in contact with it is even worse than the honey. Take a look at pond water under a microscope. Even water and soil have the germs. The fact is we are all surrounded by germs and bacterias all around us--everyday. I think as long as you have a strong immune system nothing can get to you. Remember the cells that clean up your body inside? They do a great job in keeping ourselves healthy. I am not a scientist but lots of common sense will do. When you take a look outside that is what you see. But whatever going on inside your body you don't know until you are sick and went to see the doctor. If honey is bad then how can honey bees live thru the ages and all the cold weather so far. There are other factors at play too not just the physical aspect. Scientists have measured the health by people's energy level surrounding their body. But that is off the subject a bit here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Rainbow City, AL, USA
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    4

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Wow, thank you for all the replies!

    I am one of those medical types, which prompts all my concern. I feel safe eating processed honey, but that kind of defeats the purpose, other than the taste, huh?

    What if the beekeeper doesn't keep his equipment clean? Granted, I know very little about beekeeping, but surely there is some kind of equipment involved. If his equipment is contaminated, does that not also contaminate the honey?

    What bacteria/viruses/etc do not survive in the hygroscopic environment? Which kinds do?

    Vance, ultraviolet light also kills the AFB in Tuberculosis. But it's airborne...it's not transmitted by saliva. It's transmitted via respiratory droplets that need to be inhaled. And my argument about the arugula and fruit trees is that I can wash those. I can't wash honey.

    Please know I use the term "argument" loosely. I am most certainly not coming here to stir up trouble. I am very non-confrontational but curious (and cautious) by nature.

    I recognize that bacteria are all around us. As I noted, medicine is my profession. But most things I ingest are regulated by the FDA and I can control much of the safety in preparation. I REALLY want to feel safe eating raw honey. I just need answers before I will.

    Please, keep offering up your knowledge. I sincerely appreciate your expertise.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    8,405

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by janda View Post
    I'm a scientist by degree...sometimes I know too much for my own good.
    Well then keep studying. The only way to combat germs is with antibodies. You body will create them if you stop killing every germ in sight. The most healthiest people in the world eat dirt at an early age.
    Bees are disgusting insects. They feed on poop and regurgitate honey. They walk all over the ground and don't wash their hands before they eat.

    Now if you can get over your germaphobia, bees are fascinating insects that make the most wonderful sweet substance that not only taste good it is good for you. But you got to get over the germaphobia.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    This can be approached historically by the millions of pounds of honey consumed each year with no hysteria from bacterial contaminated honey.
    The safety of honey can be viewed scientifically as has been noted previously, honey has natural antibiotic properties. Honey is even used as a wound dressing with remarkable benefits, not injury. The high concentration of sugar makes water unavailable for bacteria to grow, the same process as sugar curing or salt curing meat.

    If you have concerns about the honey you are eating, take a sample to a lab and have a bacterial culture performed. Anything in the honey should be found in a culture. I am certain there will be nothing of note.

    By the way “processed honey” is not sterilized, pasteurized or treated in any way to reduce possible bacteria and viruses. It is processed to reduce the chances of crystallization, improve shelf life and give a more consistent taste.

    I trust my own honey far more than honey from a large conglomerate with a main purpose of increasing profits.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Lee,AL,USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Mix with Everclear or Bacardi 151.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Ever notice that clean freaks are the ones with all the allergies? An immune system without challenges atrophies. The kids are the ones who really suffer. What does a plastic bubble house cost these days?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
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    192

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    There are more germs in the water and your hands and the soap and the brush or sponge or whatever probably that you use to wash your vegetables than is in the honey. If a beekeeper has dirty equipment, the honey will disinfect it. I would really be concerned about store bought honey, because you don't know if it is really pure honey. If other things are added to it, they could dilute the antibiotic effects of honey and introduce bacteria into the honey, as well as fungus and other bad things. The healthiest honey is raw honey unprocessed honey in my opinion.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by janda View Post
    What bacteria/viruses/etc do not survive in the hygroscopic environment? Which kinds do?.
    You might be interested in this NIH paper on "How honey kills bacteria":
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20228250

    Quote Originally Posted by janda View Post
    But most things I ingest are regulated by the FDA and I can control much of the safety in preparation.
    Your faith in the FDA is admirable. But they are the agency that sets standards for "allowable" filth in food. Of course the FDA doesn't exactly describe it that way, but specifying what is unacceptable also sets the bar for what is acceptable. Here is the document listing "filth" standards for hundreds of foods:
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegu.../ucm056174.htm

    Just as an example, here is the standard for wheat flour:

    WHEAT FLOUR Insect filth
    (AOAC 972.32)
    Average of 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams
    Rodent filth
    (AOAC 972.32)
    Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams
    DEFECT SOURCE: Insect fragments - preharvest and/or post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta.


    Note that honey is not on the FDA list linked above!
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 03-21-2013 at 10:04 PM. Reason: repair link
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
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    502

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Honey is teh stuff they are using to treat the infections that our best antibiotics can't kill. Spend some quality time with Google and check out how honey is used to treat MRSA. If honey can kill the "super-germs" then I think it reasonable to think it can probably considered safe from the ordinary stuff that surrounds us daily.

    With that said, I'm not a big worrier about germs, so such a conceptual approach may not go far to quell your fears.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulN View Post
    By the way “processed honey” is not sterilized, pasteurized or treated in any way to reduce possible bacteria and viruses. It is processed to reduce the chances of crystallization, improve shelf life and give a more consistent taste.
    Lots of processed honey is indeed pasteurized. Here's what a large Canadian honey producer has to say about pasteurization:
    One of the few things that can live in honey is yeast, although if the moisture content is below 18% (as it normally is), the yeast cells cannot reproduce. All nectar (the source for all honey) contains osmophilic yeasts, which can reproduce in higher-moisture content honey and cause fermentation. While fermented honey does not necessarily pose any health risk, we try to discourage it, so Bee Maid pasteurizes its honey to kill any latent yeast cells that might be present and to remove any chance of fermentation.

    http://www.beemaid.com/sweet-fact4
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Southern half, UK
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    You might be interested in watching this fascinating talk. I don't think you'll find your ten minutes will be wasted.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Eva, AL, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    You guys are making me hungry....I'm going to fix myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,220

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    The only difficulty with good honey (that is, honey that will not ferment) is the occasional presence of Botulism spores. In this respect, honey does not differ from any other fresh harvested vegetable or fruit except that the spores are suspended in a very low water activity syrup rather than on the surface of say carrots or green beans(Botulism organisms are normally found in soils),

    Very young infants (less than six month old) should never be fed honey, raw or cooked, nor should they be fed green beans, raw carrots, or similar vegetables that have not been pressure-cooked because they do not have adequate acidity in their stomachs yet to kill off botulism spores. If very young infants injest the spores, it's possible for botulism organisms to start growing in their gut, and that can result in severe or fatal poisoning.

    You should remember that the possibility of botulism organisms growing does not mean that they will, or if they do that any particular infant WILL get sick if fed honey, but it's a reasonable precaution to avoid doing so. One should feed six month old infants properly processed (pressure cooked) food as a normal precaution.

    You should also remember that without the fairly large bacterial load you carry in your lower intestine you would starve to death -- the gut bacteria make available a number of chemicals we must have to live and cannot, under any circumstances, synthesize ourselves, including several vitamins. Bacteria are not only ubiquitous, they are absolutely necessary for our being alive. Sure, there are bad ones that can make us sick or kill us, but by and large bacteria are both good and necessary.

    No pathogenic bacteria will grow in honey unless it has absorbed so much water it starts to ferment, in which case I'm fairly certain you won't eat it unless absolutely starving, it smells bad and probably tastes worse! Honey itself is good stuff other than being too much sugar in one place.

    Peter

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Grayson, KY
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    275

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    If your worried about the safety of honey from local producers why don't you raise your own?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,449

    Default Re: Howdy. Got a few a questions.

    Russian says: "Life is dangerous because cause the death"... if you are not alive, you will never die. If you have concerns regarding "cleanliness", honey is not good for you! Approximately 50 thousands small creatures bring all kind of stuff inside the hive and as Icebird properly stated - they do not wash their legs nor hands. Clean, purified, sterile high-fructose corn syrup would be much better to you. Honey is a gift of Nature and Nature contains, well ... germs. Good luck!
    Last edited by cerezha; 03-22-2013 at 01:26 AM.
    Серёжа, Sergey

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