Biochemical composition of some honey samples from different regions in Uganda.
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Honey is a sweet viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) or from secretions of other insects such as honeydew. The precise physical properties, chemical and biochemical composition of natural honeys differ according to the plant species on which the bees forage. Differences in climatic conditions and vegetation are also important factors that can affect the various properties of honey. Essentially, natural honey is a sticky and viscous solution with a content of 80-85% carbohydrate (mainly glucose and fructose), 15-17%of water, 0.1-0.4% protein, 0.2%ash and minor quantities of amino acids, enzymes and vitamins as well as other substances like phenolic anti-oxidants. The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between composition of various biochemical components of some raw honey samples with their corresponding packed ones. Also, the study was aimed at ascertaining that the composition of some biochemical components of honey samples on market is as labeled and that it lies within ranges as preset by regulating bodies; UNBS, IHC, Swiss Bee Research Centre and Codex Alimentarius Commission. The study samples included raw honey samples from Arua district, Mityana district, Soroti district and Bushenyi; a processed/ packed sample from Bushenyi. Parameters considered were free amino acids (Proline), moisture, acidity and Hydroxymethylfufural. All the honey samples were acidic with a pH range of 4.0-5.0, with Arua raw honey being the most acidic and Bushenyi (both raw and packed) honey being the least acidic. However, in regards to titratable acidity, Soroti raw honey was most acidic. Bushenyi packed honey had the greatest amount of moisture (0.31%w/w), slightly higher than its raw counterpart (0.30%w/w), whereas Soroti raw honey had the least moisture content (0.28%w/w). The Hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde content was highest in Soroti raw honey (8.984mg/kg) and lowest in Mityana raw honey (2.845mg/kg). Mityana raw honey had the highest free amino acid content (748mg/kg) and Soroti honey had the lowest (496mg/kg). Honey from Uganda can be supplied to the local market and international market where it can compete favorably because it is not necessarily substandard. Despite the quantitative variations in the analyzed biochemical components, all were found to lie within the ranges as described by regulating bodies. These variations could have arisen from differences in climatic conditions, vegetation, water availability, conditions and duration of storage. An improvement however is needed in packaging, labelling, harvesting techniques and storage conditions. Bee farmers should be informed and/ or reminded that honey production can be of great economic importance to them and the country at large once they subscribe to proper bee farming, honey harvesting, packing, labelling and marketing techniques.