Honey is most commonly consumed in its unprocessed state (i. e., liquid, crystallized, or in the comb). However, the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties of honey offer scope for applications in food technology. One special advantage is that, unlike some conventional preservatives, and as honey is an entirely natural product, it has a generally beneicial effect on human health. The following discussion describes most of the food industry applications in which honey is included.

Honey can be used for a variety of purposes, including mainly food, food ingredients, and as an ingredient in medicine-like products.

Honey as Food

In the long human history, honey is a nutrient as well as a medicinal product. Today, with the increasing appreciation of more natural products in many countries, honey has been “rediscovered” as a valuable food. In addition, the nutritional and healthenhancing properties of honey are quite a new held of research.

Honey, a high-energy carbohydrate food, is one of the last untreated natural foods; most of the honey sold for food is used directly as table sweetener or spread. The amount of honey used for food far outweighs any of the miscellaneous nonfood uses that have been described in the technical and popular literature. For a long time in human history, it was the only known sweetener, until industrial sugar production began to replace it after 1800. Today, a large variety of packaging and semiprocessed and pure honey products are marketed.

Honey as a Food Ingredient

Honey as a food ingredient deserves serious consideration, with its combination of interesting physical properties, hne lavor, and connotation of old-fashioned goodness (White). Honey is largely used on a small scale as well as at an industrial level: in bakery, confectionery, breakfast cereals, dairy, dressings and sauces, frozen foods, meats, snack bars (candy bars), spreads, ice creams, industrial nonalcoholic beverages, marmalades and jams, and many preserved products (Figure 18.3). In particular, the relatively new industry of “natural”, health and biological products

Dairy  Dressings and sauces Meats

FIGURE 18.3 Main applications of honey as food ingredients.


Uses honey abundantly as the sweetener of irst choice, together with non-reined sugars in substitution of reined sucrose (cane and beet sugar).

An overview of the different applications of honey in food industry is given (Figure 18.3). The entire mentioned application showcases were commissioned by the American National Honey Board (Www. honey. com).

The baking industry undoubtedly is the largest user of honey. Studies on the role of honey in commercial baking have shown that deinite advantages in flavor, keeping quality, texture, and eating quality arise from judicious use of honey in many types of baked goods, including breads, yeast-raised sweet goods, cakes, fruitcakes, cookies, and pies of several types. Honey has long been used in confections. For the production of caramels, honey is only used in small quantities since its hygroscopic-ity presents a major disadvantage; it reduces the preservation time and softens the caramels at the surface, causing them to stick together. Several breakfast cereal products use honey (liquid, dried, or pulverized form) in their formulas for better flavor and increased consumer appeal. It can be mixed with cereal flakes and dried fruits or applied as a component in the sweetening and flavoring ilm, which covers the flakes. The dryness or hardness of the cereal can be adjusted with the honey content and the degree of drying. Candy bars often use honey as a binding and sweetening agent. The bar ingredients are chopped to various sizes and mixed with the hot honey and sugar. Depending on the composition and the degree of heating of the sugars (including the honey), a more or less solid product is obtained after cooling. In any case, all such products are fairly hygroscopic and need to be packed with material impermeable to moisture. Industrial nonalcoholic beverage industries use honey due to the wider distribution of “functional” drinks, such as health-oriented strengthening and replenishing isotonic drinks. Iced tea can also be flavored and clariied with the addition of honey. These beverages use a special ultrailtration process to eliminate impurities. Ultrailtered honey loses some of its flavor and color but is highly appreciated by food processors because it provides a more consistent product with lower production costs. Cake mixes, breads, and drink or energy health powders use dried or dehydrated honey.

The antibacterial effect of honey counteracts microbial spoilage of food (e. g., meat), while honey enhances the growth of dairy starter cultures in milk and milk products, especially species with weak growth rates in milk, such as biidobacte-ria (Bf-1 and Bf-6). In addition, honey can be used as a prebiotic additive to probiotic milk products. Due to its antioxidant properties, honey prevents oxidation of food during storage and thus acts against lipid oxidation of meat (Nagai et al. 2006). The addition of honey to patties seems to prevent formation of heterocyclic aromatic amine and overall mutagenicity in fried ground-beef patties (Shin et al. 2003). Effects of honey against enzymatic browning of fruits and vegetables and soft drinks have been reported (Chen et al. 2000). Other physical and sensory properties make honey a good candidate for an additive to a wide variety of food: breads, cakes, spread yeast-raised sweet goods, cookies, and other foods stated above. All are improved by honey.

“Natural,” health, and biological products use honey abundantly as a sweetener of irst choice together with nonreined sugars substituting for reined sucrose. In fact, honey can substitute for all or parts of the normal sugar in most products.

Limitations are presented on one side by costs and handling characteristics and on the other by the natural variations in honey characteristics, which change the end product, making it more variable and requiring more frequent adjustments in the industrial formulations.

Elsewhere, the U. S. National Honey Board provides useful information on the roles of honey characteristics on its application as a food additive (Table 18.4) in promotion and marketing to small and large industrial users of honey.

Honey as an Ingredient in Medicine-Like Products

The use of honey in medicine is a subject reported intermittently for the past 4000 years; its use as a therapeutic natural product has been reevaluated in a more scientiic setting (Nasuti et al. 2006). The largest nonfood use of honey is in pharmaceuticals. Thus, several pharmaceutical preparations have honey as a useful adjunct. It has long been recommended in infant formulas. Luttinger (1922) highly recommended the use of honey in infant feeding because it does not produce acidosis, its rapid absorption prevents it from undergoing alcoholic fermentation, its free acids favor the absorption of fats, it complements the iron deiciency in human and cow’s milk, it increases appetite and peristalsis, and it has a soothing effect that reduces fretfulness. These attributes of honey have been veriied by subsequent investigators in tests using honey in feeding children of various ages and found special values for honey compared with other sugars. Included in the observed beneits were an increase in the hemoglobin content of the blood, better skin color, relief from constipation, a decrease in diarrhea and vomiting (Takuma 1955; Tropp 1957), more rapid increase in blood sugars than after sucrose administration (Muller 1956), better weight gains when honey was substituted for dextromaltose after faulty nutrition, and good honey tolerance with infants suffering from rickets, inflammation of the intestine, malnourishment, and prematurity. With this amount of deinite evidence in the case of infants and children, there seems to be plenty of reasons for including honey, not only in the diets of infants and children, but also in the diets of adults as well, and particularly those who are undergoing vigorous exercise under exacting conditions (Kreider et al. 2002).

It is not hazardous when honey is used as an ingredient in various medicine-like products. At present, it is admitted that honey is a potential therapeutic agent and is eficacious against several diseases. The abundance of systematic scientiic study and the proliferation of publications are now being offered on the diversity of its therapeutic properties. Both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are useful in the stimulation of wound and burn healing (Molan 2001) and as a possible treatment of gastric ulcers and gastritis (Salem 1981).

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