If you’re a foodie, you know you can eat fresh honey, even in a restaurant, but if you’re worried about the bacteria in honey, you’ll need to avoid it.
There are several reasons for this, according to the Australian National University, which advises eating fresh honey in moderation.
The first reason is that it contains less honey and it’s more likely to contain beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria are the most common type of bacteria in your gut, so you want to eat foods that have high levels of them.
“You want to avoid things that have a high proportion of bacteria,” said Dr Kate White, the head of food safety at the University of Queensland.
“For example, honey is low in beneficial bacteria so there’s a high chance that you’re going to get it contaminated with bacteria.”
Another reason to avoid fresh honey is that most foods contain lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.
Lactose causes some people to have a low amount of lactase, a enzyme that breaks down lactose in the body, and the risk of developing lactose intolerance, a condition in which you can’t digest lactose.
It can also be harmful if you eat processed foods.
“You don’t want to consume any food that has added sugars that you’ve not yet digested and therefore are still in the bloodstream,” Dr White said.
“The good news is that if you do eat a lot of processed food, it’s very likely that you’ll have a higher proportion of beneficial bacteria and lactase.”
A final reason for avoiding honey is because it can contain traces of bacteria that can lead to a variety of health problems.
“This is where the real problem lies,” Dr Brown said.
“[It can be] a good source of contamination, it can be a bad source of infection, and it can also contain toxins.
It can be potentially dangerous.”
Babies are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness because they’re more likely than adults to come into contact with contaminated foods, including honey, which is very common.
“Babies, as soon as they come into the world, are more susceptible to bacteria,” Dr Black said.
The best way to prevent honey contamination is to keep a close eye on the food you eat, especially when you’re cooking it.
“As soon as you have your hand on a piece of raw food that you have to cook, you should get rid of that piece of food and use another piece of cooked food,” Dr James said.
“When you do that, you’re not exposing your hand to anything else.”
If you’re concerned about your honey, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly and follow a safe hand washing and sanitising routine.
Read more about food safety in Australia