Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2013, 4, 1266-1270
Published Online December 2013 (
Open Access FNS
Physico-Chemical and Labeling Control of Imported
Honeys in Burkina Faso
Schweitzer Paul1, Nombré Issa2,3, Aidoo Kwamé4, Boussim I. Joseph3
1Laboratoire d’Analyses et d’Ecologie Apicole Centre d’Etudes Techniques Apicole de Moselle, Guenange, France; 2Institut des
Sciences, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; 3Laboratoire de Biologie et Écologie Végétales UFR Science et Technique Université de
Ouagadougou, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; 4International Stingless Bee Centre, Department of Entomology and Wildlife, Univer-
sity of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.
Received September 4th, 2013; revised October 4th, 2013; accepted October 11th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Schweitzer Paul et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In accor-
dance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights © 2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual
property Schweitzer Paul et al. All Copyright © 2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
Burkina Faso is situated in the cen tre of Western Africa with a high illiteracy rate, despite efforts of the governments to
improve education. This is not without consequences on the choice of foodstuffs bought and consumed by the people
and the consequent effect on their health. Honey is one of the foodstuffs consumed by people. However local produc-
tion falls short of demand, and so most supermarkets in Burkina Faso sell imported honey. Do these imported honeys
conform to the international standards regarding labeling of foodstuffs, and specifically do they possess physico-
chemical characteristics that conform to international norms of Codex Alimentarus and European honey Commission?
The study investigated certain characteristics established by standards of the European Commission and Codex Ali-
mentarius. The labels on packaged honey were analyzed according to the standard of Journa l Officiel. Results show that
the physic-chemical plan, the hydroxyl-methyl-furfural (HMF) content were high whereas the diastase index was low
indicating lack of freshness of imported honeys. For the stability, honey samples conformed to the standard of the
European Commission and Cod ex Alimentarius. Only two honey samples fulfill the Codex Alimentarius and the Euro-
pean commission norms. Storage temperatures degrade honey considerably and it suggested that under tropical condi-
tions the deadline for opti mal use (DLUO) of honeys is reduced to one year.
Keywords: Honey Analysis; Food Labeling; Consumption Deadline; Burkina Faso
1. Introduction
Honey is defined as the natural sweet substance, pro-
duced by honeybees from the nectar of plants or from
secretions of living parts of plants, or excretions of
plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants, which
the bees collect, transform by combining with specific
substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and
leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature [1-3]. So, all
honeys intended for human consumption must conform
to this definition. Unfortunately, honeys that do not con-
form to these criteria are found on sale in super markets
of Burkina Faso. Some of the physico-chemical and or-
ganoleptic characteristics do not conform to those de-
scribed by Codex Alimentarirus and European Commis-
sion. Moreover, their labeling on the packaging has to
conform to that of [4]. Indeed, the labeling should not
mislead the consumers with regard to the composition of
the product and its origin, and persuade them that this
foodstuff possesses particular characteristics [5].
In developed countries, many studies have shown sev-
eral cases of honey adulteration. In Sub Saharan Africa,
and particularly in Burkina Faso studies have concen-
trated on melliferous plant species [6,7], and the impact
of temperature on honey storage [8]. However in many
developing countries well laid down mechanisms to con-
trol the quality of honey is absent. This makes it difficu lt
for producers to meet export standards of the European
Commission or Codex Alimentarius [9].
This study aims to draw consumers’ attention to inter-
national standards as related to the importation and sale
of honeys in Burkina Faso. The labeling will be verified
Physico-Chemical and Labeling Control of Imported Honeys in Burkina Faso 1267
according to the standards outlined in the [4] and the
physico-chemical characteristics according to [2] and
European Honey Commission [1].
2. Material and Methods
Imported honeys in super markets in Ouagadougou,
Burkina Faso were sampled on 05 April 2013. According
to the availability, th ree to five honey pots per sample of
any type were bought. The interior temperature of the
shelf where honeys were displayed was recorded with
Kestrel 4000 version: 4.29 ALL. All the honey samples
were analyzed at the laboratories of the Centre d’Etude
Technique Apicole de Moselle, France according to the
harmonized methods of the European Honey Commis-
sion [1]. The following characteristics of the honey sam-
ples were analyzed: coolness indicators as Hydroxy-
methyl-furf ural (H MF) an d dias tasiqu e activity (amylase);
stability indicators as moisture, pH, free acidity, fructose
and glucose; botanical origin as electrical conductivity
and the colour.
The information on the labeling was verified according
to the Directive 2000/13/CE [10]. According to this di-
rective, the information which necessarily have to appear
in the case of honey are: the name of sale, the net quan-
tity, the particular condition s of conserv ation an d use, the
company name and the address of manufacturer, the
deadline for optimal use (DLUO), the geographical ori-
gin and the indicative price.
3. Results
Generally, the labeling of the imported honey jars was
regular. Legal requirements were presented (Table 1).
However the name and the add ress of producer s were not
mentioned as shown in the table.
Most of the honey samples (72.72%) were mixed
flower honeys with their geographical origin being from
or outside the European Commission (Table 1). Two
honey samples (18.18%) were from Spain and one from
According to the Deadline for Optimal Use stated, one
of the honey samples had expired (01/04/2013). Three
will expire in 2013, six in 2014 and only one in 2015.
Two honeys (N˚ 9 and 11) had the same name (miel
d’oranger), but they didn’t have the same composition
and the same geographical origin. Four honey samples
had the botanical origin as miel d’Acacia, d’oranger,
d’oranger and romarin); two were honeydew honeys
(miel de montagne, miel de forêt et de sapin); the others
were flower honeys.
Table 2 summarized the results of the analysis of the
honey samples in terms of their coolness, stability, color
and botanical origins. All these characteristics are im-
portant to the product quality and therefore the consum-
ers’ health.
The Hydroxy-methyl-furfural (HMF) content varied
from 29.9 mg/kg for sample N˚ 1 to 122.7 mg/kg for
sample N˚ 8. The HMF content of most of the honey
samples (81.81%) exceeded the Codex Alimentarius and
European commission standard that were less or equal to
40 mg/kg. Only two samples (N˚ 1 and 11) had their
HMF value under 40 mg/kg. For the amylase content, the
values varied from 4 to 15 Schade unity (N˚ 4 and N˚ 15).
Forty-five and half per cent (45.5%) had their values
Table 1. Presentation of honey samples according to the descriptions on the labeling.
Presentation of different honey samples
N˚ Denomination Geographical origin Net weight (g) DLUO Price (€)
1 Miel de forêt et de sapin Mixture of honeys from EC and non EC 375 01/09/2013 5.27
2 Miel de montagne Spain 250 01/04/2013 5.56
3 Miel crémeux Mixture of honeys from EC and non EC 250 01/01/2014 5.27
4 Miel de fleurs Mixture of honeys from EC and non EC 375 01/07/2014 7.91
5 Miel de fleurs Mixture of honeys from EC and non EC 450 01/07/2014 5.37
6 Miel d’acacia Mixture of Acacia honey from EC 375 01/10/2013 8
7 Tartimiel Mixture of orange tree and Acacia from EC and non EC250 01/07/2014 5
8 American green From Australian 500 03/2015 3.43
9 Miel d’oranger Mixture of orange tree honeys from Spain and Mexico 250 01/10/2014 5.27
10 Miel de romarin Mixture of rosemary honeys from Spain 375 01/08/2013 7.94
11 Miel d’oranger Mixture of honeys from EC and non EC 250 30/10/2014 4.88
EC: European Community; DLUO: Deadline for optimal used.
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Physico-Chemical and Labeling Control of Imported Honeys in Burkina Faso
Table 2. Physicochemical characteristics of imported honey samples.
Product freshness Product stability Botanical origin Colour
(mg/Kg) Amylase
(Schade unity) Moisture
(g/100g) pH Free acidity
(mEq/kg) Electrical conductivity
(µS/cm) Pfund
scale (mm) USDA colour
1 38.5 15 17.5 4.8415 993 150 Dark amber
2 44.7 14 17.5 3.5818.9 540 150 Dark amber
3 50.5 11 18.4 4.0611.1 393 66 Light amber
4 89.9 4 17.8 4.0911.9 284 58 Light amber
5 62.8 8 17.8 4.069.2 243 58 Light amber
6 46.4 7 17 4.376.1 125 22 White
7 75.9 7 16.9 3.968.4 224 61 Light amber
8 122.7 4 16.4 4.395.1 119 69 Light amber
9 45.6 9 17.9 4.2212.5 260 77 Light amber
10 100.4 7 17.7 4.019.5 172 68 Light amber
11 29.9 10 16.4 4.1512.8 687 41 Extra light amber
over the Codex Alimentarius and European Commission
standard and 54.55% had their values lower than 8
Schade unity.
For the stability, all of honey samples conformed to
the standard of the Codex Alimentarius and that of the
European Commission. The pH value varied from 3.58 to
4.84. Only one honey sample (N˚ 1) had pH level being
the same as that of the honeydew honeys. In terms of the
free acidity, the value varied from 5.1 to 18 meq/kg. All
the values were lower than 50 meq/kg.
The conductivity of honey samples showed that most
of them (90.90%) were flower honeys with conductivity
lower than 0.8 mS/cm. Only one sample (N˚ 1) had con-
ductivity more 0.8 mS/cm.
According to US Department of Agriculture colour
standards [11], the honey samples varied from dark am-
ber (N˚ 1, and 2) to white (N˚ 6). Many (63.63%) were of
light amber in colour.
4. Discussion
Despite the important efforts done in physico-chemical
analyses, the detection and the quantification of honey
adulterations continue to be a difficult problem [12].
Even with the adaptation of international standards, the
detection and authentication of honeys have become a
preoccupation of many. In terms of honey labeling, the
results show that honey samples fulfilled the criteria of
the European commission and Codex Alimentarius. Only
one sample failed to meet the criteria. But according to [5]
and [13], the DLUO does not mean that the honey cannot
be consumer, but it means that the honey must not fer-
mented. It however meets the legal quality criteria, par-
ticularly the index of age as indicated by the HMF and
Diastase Index.
The producer cannot be responsible for bad storage
conditions of the distributor or in th e consumers’ houses.
This is why it is necessary to indicate the particular con-
ditions for good storage of honey.
For the physico-chemical analyses, the expired honey
sample fulfilled a lot of criteria except the HMF value
where it was slightly higher than 40 mg/Kg.
The honey freshness is an important criterion for the
consumers [14]. Indeed, the diastase index and the HMF
content are quality factors and they give the age and the
thermal past of the honey [15].
For the HMF content, a lot of honey samples did not
meet the standard of the Codex Alimentarius and the
European Commission. Indeed, at harvest, the comb
honey does not have any HMF value, but time and the
temperature accelerates its formation and according to
[16], this value is multiplied by 1.10 times in six months
and by 2.0 in one year when honeys were stored between
15˚C and 20˚C. This explains this high HMF value of the
sampled honeys because they were storage at 30˚C. Nev-
ertheless, two samples despite their DLUO fulfilled this
HMF criterion.
The results of the enzymes activities bring good in-
formation on the thermal treatment of the honeys studied.
Its interpretation allows for the detection not only the
freshness state of honey but also the optimal conditions
of storage. Finally, when the history of the honey is not
known, the analysis allows for the detection of the kind
of degradation that it has been subjected [15].
For the diastasique index, a lot of honey samples stud-
ied were degraded. That can be explained by the storage
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Physico-Chemical and Labeling Control of Imported Honeys in Burkina Faso 1269
temperature because according to [3,16], the amylase
content is sensitive to the temperature and these small
values can be a proof of deterioration due to excessive
One honey sample (N˚ 1) is honeydew honey by its
denomination and its physicochemical characteristics.
Indeed, according to [17], honeydew honey is character-
ized by its very dark colour (dark amber), its high pH
value (4.84) and its electrical conductivity (0.9 mS/cm).
The others honey samples were of flower origin.
The honey colour is the physical property perceived
immediately by the consumers [18]. Even if the colours
were from the plant species foraged by honeybees, the
temperature also influence it. The honey samples ful-
filled the international norms.
Only two honey samples, one from honeydews honey
(N˚ 1) and the second from flowers (N˚ 11) fulfill the
Codex Alimentarius and the European commission
norms. The sample N˚ 8 with 122.7 mg/Kg of HMF co n-
tent and 4 Schade unity of diastase index and DLUO in
2015 is the most degraded honey. Probably it has been
heated. The sample N˚ 6, 9, and 11 would had less dia-
stase index because they were from Acacia and Citrus or
according to [19] the honey of such characteristics are
naturally poor in diastase. The others samples N˚ 4, 6, 7,
and 10 with high HMF level and low diastasique index
have been degraded by the storage temperature near 30
˚C because according to [8], the tropical temperature of
storage increase the HMF and amylase content rapidly
and that can reduce considerably the honeys’ DLUO.
5. Conclusion
The results show that a lot of honey samples fulfill the
labeling criterion. Also, lots of them have been degraded
by storage temperature. Only two honey samples fulfill
the Codex Alimentarius and Eur opean Commission n orms.
The temperature in tropical area is an important factor that
limits the DLUO. Accordingly a storage condition, the
DLUO between 6 months and one year is suggested for
the honeys sold in tropical regions. That will allow for the
preservation of their qualities. The invertase and sugars
content and also pollen analysis have not been carried out
during this study. These would allow the detection of
sugar adulteration by the addition of saccharose syrup.
Another important characteristic is the presence of anti-
biotics. This affects the honey quality and can pose
enough danger to public health. Future studies will be
concentrated on the above so as to constitute a database
for improving the honey quality and to be able to monitor
the characteristics of imported honeys in Burkina Faso.
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