Honey Testing


  • Pesticides
    P4000 Honey Pesticide Profile
    Chlordimeform      Coumaphos      Fenpyroximate
    Fluvalinate      Bromopropylate
    P7000 National Organic Program Pesticide Profile
  • Antibiotics
    Chloramphenicol      Fluoroquinolones
    Tetracyclines      Sulfonamides
    Streptomycin      Tylosin (A & B)
    P8500 Antibiotics Profile
  • Diastase (Amylase)
  • Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)
  • Hydroxydecenoic acid, in royal jelly (10-HDA)
  • Moisture, by refractometer
  • Sugar Profile
    Fructose        Glucose
    Maltose         Sucrose
    Maltotriose    Maltotetrose
    Melezitose     Raffinose
    Fructose/Glucose Ratio
  • UF Profile (“Ultrafiltered” sweetener)
  • Microbiological analysis
    APC               Coliforms
    Salmonella      Yeast & Mold (standard culture & osmophilic)
  • Other quality tests available
    Color (Pfund)      Free acidity
    Ash                    Insoluble solids
    Electrical conductivity
    Heavy metals


Trace levels of the antibiotic chloramphenicol have been found in a number of batches of honey, especially from Asia. Although the levels being found are very low, due to it’s toxicity it is considered an illegal contaminant at any level. Most countries are now testing down to a level of 0.3 ppb. Several analytical methodologies have emerged to enable reaching these low levels. At Columbia Food Laboratories we have set up analytical methods using two of these techniques:
ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)
This is a quantitative screening method with a lower detection limit of 0.3 ppb. It is widely used in Europe and appears to be highly regarded. Due to the nature of this type of assay, false positives are a slight possibility. False negatives are less likely. We have found a few instances where this method has given a false positive result in honey at or below the 1 ppb level, although recent improvements in the ELISA kits seem to have reduced this possibility. To keep the cost of this test to a minimum, we are not attempting to quantitate levels above 10 ppb, but will report such results as “>10 ppb” (greater than 10 ppb).
P176  Chloramphenicol (by ELISA)    Price: $85/sample
HPLC/MS (high pressure liquid chromatography / mass spectroscopy)
This is a highly specific quantitative method with a minimum quantitation limit of 0.3 ppb. We use high resolution time-of-flight MS, therefore, the identification of CAP can be made with much greater certainty. Often our customers use this method as a test upgrade to confirm samples which test positive by ELISA. Due to the additional time required for sample preparation and the high cost of the instrumentation involved, this method is more expensive to perform.
P177  Chloramphenicol (by HPLC/MS)    Price: $180/sample

Antibiotics Profile
Columbia Food Laboratories has a new antibiotics profile which includes fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, macrolides and tetracyclines. Refer to test code P8500 above for the current list. Only tylosin and oxytetracycline are currently approved for use against American foulbrood in the USA. However, several other antibiotics have been illegally used and detected in honey. At this time the P8500 profile can only be applied to honey (not wax, propolis or royal jelly). Details….
P8500  Antibiotics Profile (by HPLC/MS/MS)    Price: $190/sample

Because of the high value of pure honey, adulteration may be a concern. There are a number of ways by which honey could be adulterated. The most common is probably the addition of some type of sugar syrup. Various tests exist to aid in the detection of adulteration, although none of them are completely reliable in all cases. There are those who will try to find ways to beat the system, and analysts will continue looking for ways to detect it. Our sugar profile (N761) has been expanded to include several oligosaccharides. This addition improves on the profile’s ability to detect adulteration with sugar syrups such as corn and rice. Corn syrup may also be detected with the SIRA test. Please call us to discuss details if you have a need to test for adulteration of honey.
External links concerning honey
Colony Collapse Disorder – USDA Questions and Answers, December 2010
        Florida First State to Establish “Standard of Identity” for Honey, July 2009
Honey Quality and International Regulatory Standards




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**Previous Phone discontinued March 2017: (503) 695-2287**



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