Can you get sick from eating expired honey?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you get sick from eating expired honey” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can get sick from eating expired honey. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store honey.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can you get sick from eating expired honey?

When it comes to honey, you do not necessarily get sick from eating expired honey as long as it was stored appropriately. 

Honey has a very high sugar content added to it therefore it does not provide suitable media for microbes to grow. Honey is a supersaturated solution of the sugars that contains more than 70% of the sugars and less than 20% of water present in its formulation that gives it the viscous consistency (mostly 80% sugar and less than 18% of water but it can vary depending upon bee species, plants, weather, and humidity as well as processing).

Sugar is hygroscopic in nature which means that it has the ability to soak in water (it attracts the water molecules). Osmosis is the process in which water moves from a region of low solute concentration to a region of high solute concentration. The solute in this case is sugar. 

So the water content of sugar itself is almost nil, so what happens is that when bacteria land on the surface of the sugar the process of osmosis sets in. Thus, the water starts to move from the body of the bacteria to the sugar, thereby dehydrating the bacteria and killing them and that is the very reason lying behind why you do not potentially get sick after eating expired honey.

Moreover honey has an acidic pH. The pH of honey ranges from 3.4 to 6.1 with an average pH of 3.9. The primary reason behind the low pH of the honey is the gluconic acid that is produced during the process of nectar ripening.

Moreover, during the process of honey production, bees secrete an enzyme known as glucose oxidase which plays an important role in preserving honey.

Moreover, with time as the honey ripens, the glucose oxidase changes the sugar in gluconic acid and also produces a compound known as hydrogen peroxide which is chiefly responsible for the antibacterial effect of the honey and also helps in the prevention of microbial growth on honey.

So you can eat the honey that is long past the date printed on it provided that it is stored properly.

It is worth mentioning that instead of the “expiration date”, you will find a “best by” or “best before” date written on the packet of honey. The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the pack of honey refers to the quality rather than safety so the honey doesn’t go bad immediately after the best before date. 

You can read 10 health benefits of honey here.

Honey and botulism

When it comes to honey, especially unpasteurized honey can have spores of Clostridium Botulinum. But they are present in about 5-15%of the honey samples and that too in small amounts.

Such a small amount of toxins are not harmful to adults but babies under 1 can develop botulism that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. It can even lead to hospitalization and severe deleterious health implications if not treated on time.

Therefore it is advised that children under 1 year should not be fed on honey. Therefore honey is pasteurized to get rid of such spores. 

Pasteurized honey can have a very minor amount of spores present in it, therefore it won’t be able to affect any adult deleteriously. But when it comes to children under 1, their immune system is not strong, therefore it is advised that you should not feed honey or corn syrup to your children under 1. 

Tips to properly store honey

  1. Honey can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. Therefore you can safely store the honey in a cool and dry corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.
  1. You should not use a wet or dirty spoon to scoop out the honey from its container.
  1. You should close the lid of the container as soon as you are done scooping out the amount of honey that you need.
  1. You should always use clean cutlery or spoon to scoop out the honey from its container.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you get sick from eating expired honey” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can get sick from eating expired honey. Moreover, we discussed tips to properly store honey.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-honey-go-bad

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/foods-that-never-expire_n_57b5f010e4b03d513686cbcb#:~:text=Honey%20keeps%20indefinitely.,will%20stay%20safe%20to%20eat.

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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