A recent article about alleged toxins in Australian honey published by FairFax Media is an “alarmist and sensationalist report of the issue of Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in honey,” according to Dr Ben McKee, Managing Director of honey maker Capilano.
According to Dr McKee, “Alkaloids are generated naturally by plants and are used as a defence mechanism. They have been detected in a range of foods including honey, teas, herbal products, milk, meat, grains and cereals.”
“Industry and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recognises that honeys produced from Patterson's Curse (Echium plantagineum) will contain these alkaloids and that consumers should not exclusively eat large quantities of this honey (FSANZ 2011),” he said.
“The alkaloids known as echimidine and lycopsamine are the predominant ones found in Patterson's Curse honey and as a result of best practice modern farming techniques, the amount of honey produced from the agricultural weed Patterson's Curse has declined dramatically over the past decade, to next to nothing,” he noted.
“No longer do we see fields of purple flowering weeds in Australia. This change in the environment has resulted in an insignificant production of this type of honey in Australia and it is not considered a commercial honey that will be used in retail honey products.”
“Most notably,” said Dr McKee, “Patterson's Curse honey is not produced in commercial quantities in Australia. Despite this, there remains no scientific evidence illustrating that consuming such honey leads to unfavourable clinical human health concerns.”
“Consumers of quality Australian honey have nothing to fear and they should continue to enjoy our great natural Australian honeys without hesitation,” he concluded.