Financing contract no.: 194PED/2017

Project No.: PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-1656

Alternative analytical approaches for detecting adulteration of honey with emphasis on its biologically active compounds




The assessment of honey authenticity is a major concern that has gained a lot of interest internationally since the honey has always been subjected to various fraudulent practices which become more sophisticated in the present day. Consumers, regulatory bodies and beekeepers are interested to have reliable analytical tools and information to allow the detection of adulterated honey.

SAHE-HONEY project aims to develop and validate new rapid alternative analytical strategies employing more accessible and sensitive instrumental techniques (fingerprinting techniques) for a reliable, high-throughput and cost-effective identification of honey adulteration, in reference to detection of direct and indirect adulteration of honey by addition of sugar syrups. Authenticity of different floral honeys in terms of adulteration identification will be investigated by fingerprinting low-molecular organic compounds responsible for the therapeutic effect of honey (phenolic compounds, organic acids, vitamins and volatiles) and sugars profile by HPLC, GC-MS, UV-VIS and NMR techniques and verified using the isotopes signature (δ13C and (D/H)I) by IRMS and SNIF-NMR techniques. In this respect, we consider that it is crucial to provide essential data in order to achieve several milestones including the establishment of references database, estimating the variation of honey bioactive constituents and isotopic parameters due to botanic and geographic factors, which can be compared with the variation observed by direct or indirect adulteration of honey. Using the proposed methodologies, direct and indirect adulteration experiments with different sugar syrups (from corn, cane and beet) will be conducted in order to highlight the minimal amount of incorporated sugar syrup from which the bioactive compounds profile and honey biochemical and sensorial properties are definitively modified.



The Consortium consists of two participating entities from the academic area (a national R&D institute and a university)

  • Coordinator (CO): National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenics and Isotopic Technologies – ICSI Rm. Valcea; Research-Development & Technological Transfer Department (RDTT) - Laboratories (http://erris.gov.ro/R&DTT-Laboratories)

Project manager: PhD. Geană Elisabeta-Irina; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4909-8574

P1 project responsible: PhD eng. STAN Laura; https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9999-1101



General objectives

The project, sustained by the International Federation of Apitherapy and the Romanian Apitherapy Society, will develop cost effective analytical methods and data that will enable an objective verification of the quality and authenticity of honey as foodstuff which provides health benefits in addition to its basic nutritional value.

The SAFE-HONEY proposal is highly feasible since the technical support, together with specialized personnel and preliminary results on the research topic are already available with a proper allocation of time, financial and human resources. Essential data will be obtained in order to achieve general objectives such as:

  • improve the confidence in the authenticity and quality of Romanian honey to consumers and importing companies from national and international markets

  • firmly establish, implement and validate innovative and efficient analytical methods able to objectively assess the quality and authenticity of honey

  • to promote accessible and more sensitive and cost-effective procedures based on applications of fingerprinting techniques of honey biologically active constituents for detecting honey adulteration

  • to gather referential data and knowledge related with the optimum methods for honey quality control and authentication.

SMART objectives

The SMART indicator for analyzing the feasibility of the proposal contains the following topics:

  • specific - determining the chemical fingerprints (isotopic signature, sugars and biologically active constituents) and evaluating the biochemical properties (polyphenols, flavonoids, antioxidant activity) of authentic and artificial honey

  • measurable - validated fingerprinting methods by HPLC, IRMS, SNIF-NMR, GC-MS, NMR, UV-VIS for determining the adulteration of honey with sugar syrups (from corn, cane, beet); methods of calculating the adulteration percent of honey; data base for authenticating different monofloral honeys

  • assignable - priority research interest at national and international level

  • realistic - the existing knowledge and infrastructure and time-related (coherence of the work plan; proper allocation of time, financial and human resources

Expected results

  • Protocols for collection, preparation and preservation of honey samples

  • Databases with sugars profile and isotopic signature of authentic and artificial honey; improving the ICSI existing isotope database with data form honeys collected during this project

  • Databases with profiles of biologically active compounds (phenolic compounds, organic acids, vitamins, volatile compounds) and bioactive properties (total polyphenols, total flavonoids and antioxidant activity) in pure and artificial honey

  • Validated procedures used for identification of adulterated honey

  • Validated alternative methodologies based of fingerprinting methods for identification of different floral artificial honeys



Total budget: 475.000 RON

Budget allocation by stages (in RON):

  • Stage 1: Establishing a common strategy to address the topic, merging the ideas, capabilities and competences of partners

Total budget

Public budget

(budget credits)

Public budget (commitment credits)




  • Stage 2: Development of new alternative analytical methods for honey quality and authenticity certification based on honey biologically active compounds fingerprints of pure and adulterated honey

Total budget


Project progress: public results & dissemination


Public results

  • Scientific reports on analytical data assessment


  • manuscripts published in per review ISI journals

  • scientific manifestations

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