In episode 83 of the Bees with Ben podcast, Ben chats with Sarah Calleja of Randox Food Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Randox Laboratories. With over 1,300 employees and offices in more than 145 countries, Randox is a world leader within the in vitro diagnostics industry, committed to innovative diagnostic solutions for hospitals, a wide variety of laboratory applications, and food testing. Their vision is to improve health worldwide.
Amongst recent achievements, Randox has launched mobile COVID-19 labs for workplace testing, capable of processing up to 1,000 tests per day. Furthermore, the company has developed the world’s fastest PCR test, with results in 39 minutes, a sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 100%.
Randox is also a leader in food screening technology, and Randox Food Diagnostics have pioneered a range of honey quality tests, which allow apiarists across the world to confirm the safety and quality of their product, and thereby ensure consumer confidence. The tests can screen simultaneously for the presence of residual concentrations of multiple antibiotics used to rid bee hives of pests and diseases from a single sample of honey. This adds to Randox’s impressive suite of honey screening tests, which also includes an assessment for hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), an organic compound produced by dehydration of sugars, and which can be indicative of overheating, poor storage or aged honey.
Honey also contains small amounts of enzymes which vary according to floral source and region. These enzymes are instrumental in determining the functional properties of honey and enzymatic analysis is important in determining quality. Randox describe their RX misano as the ‘most modern enzymatic analyser in the industry’. It is capable of measuring diastase, total sugars (glucose and fructose) and colour, as well as HMF, all incorporated into a table -top size unit that requires very little maintenance. The RX misano features a touch screen display, customisable test menus (new parameters can be uploaded by USB), and the ability to export data. It is also extremely accurate and cost effective, making it suitable for commercial beekeepers as well as large honey producers and packers.
Randox also offer in-house analysis and testing. Randox Managing Director, Dr Peter Fitzgerald stated, ‘We are working closely with industry to promote a responsible approach to antibiotic use in food production and we hope that by working with some of the biggest names in the apiculture market, other honey producers will see the benefits of being able to offer their customers complete consumer confidence in a high quality, and importantly, safe product.’
Obviously, the ability to substantiate the quality of their product is of great benefit to apiarists, particularly since the aroma, taste and therapeutic properties of honey are optimised when it is preserved in a raw, unprocessed ‘organic’ state. Screening for antibiotics and enzymatic analysis may seem a rather novel approach for many beekeepers, but it is likely to become increasingly important in the future.