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Food and Chemical ToxicologyFood and Chemical Toxicology

Volume 176, June 2023

Pesticide residues in bee bread, propolis, beeswax and royal jelly – A review of the literature and dietary risk assessment

Rita Végh, Mariann Csóka, Zsuzsanna Mednyánszky, László Sipos

  • The pesticide residue content of hive products is a food safety concern.
  • Acute and chronic dietary risk assessments were conducted, based on literature data.
  • Coumaphos and chlorfenvinphos accumulation in beeswax is a potential risk.
  • Global regulations on the content of acaricide residues in beeswax are required.
  • Further research is needed on the pesticide residue content of bee bread, propolis and royal jelly.

Due to pollinator decline observed worldwide, many studies have been conducted on the pesticide residue content of apicultural products including bee bread, propolis, beeswax and royal jelly. These products are consumed for their nutraceutical properties, although, little information is available on the human health risk posed by pesticides present in them. In our research, studies dealing with the pesticide contamination of the above-mentioned hive products are reviewed. Dietary exposures were calculated based on the recommended daily intake values and concentration data reported by scientific studies. Potential acute and chronic health risk of consumers were evaluated by comparing the exposure values with health-based guidance values. Available data indicate that a wide range of pesticide residues, especially acaricides may accumulate in bee bread, propolis and beeswax, up to concentration levels of more thousand μg/kg. Based on our observations, tau-fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorfenvinphos, chlorpyrifos and amitraz are commonly detected pesticide active substances in beehive products. Our estimates suggest that coumaphos and chlorfenvinphos can accumulate in beeswax to an extent that pose a potential health risk to the consumers of comb honey. However, it appears that pesticide residues do not transfer to royal jelly, presumably due to the filtering activity of nurse bees during secretion.

Keywords: Apicultural product, Contamination, Insecticide, Acaricide, Exposure assessment, Food safety hazard