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Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Aug-Sep;48(8-9):2388-92. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2010.05.076. Epub 2010 May 31.

High 5-hydroxymethylfurfural concentrations are found in Malaysian honey samples stored for more than one year.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.


5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content is an indicator of the purity of honey. High concentrations of HMF in honey indicate overheating, poor storage conditions and old honey. This study investigated the HMF content of nine Malaysian honey samples, as well as the correlation of HMF formation with physicochemical properties of honey. Based on the recommendation by the International Honey Commission, three methods for the determination of HMF were used: (1) high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), (2) White spectrophotometry and (3) Winkler spectrophotometry methods. HPLC and White spectrophotometric results yielded almost similar values, whereas the Winkler method showed higher readings. The physicochemical properties of honey (pH, free acids, lactones and total acids) showed significant correlation with HMF content and may provide parameters that could be used to make quick assessments of honey quality. The HMF content of fresh Malaysian honey samples stored for 3-6 months (at 2.80-24.87 mg/kg) was within the internationally recommended value (80 mg/kg for tropical honeys), while honey samples stored for longer periods (12-24 months) contained much higher HMF concentrations (128.19-1131.76 mg/kg). Therefore, it is recommended that honey should generally be consumed within one year, regardless of the type.

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