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I recently purchased a jar of Very Raw Honey from my local market. I purchased it because it was on sale, but eventually I looked up whether it was safe or not to eat and came across articles such as this and this one. The label on the jar says its 100% unfiltered. Also, I don't know if the articles means truly raw (as in straight from the honey comb) and whether or not the jar of honey I purchased is the same as raw honey that comes straight from the honey comb.

Is it safe to consume? Is the Madhava honey the same stuff that I would get straight from a honey comb?


Upate: So from the post, honey is safe to eat, which I was aware of, but what about raw honey (at least raw honey purchased in stores)? It's still unclear to me.

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honey is generally raw –  rumtscho Feb 10 at 19:40

1 Answer 1

If the honey has always had a water content below ~18% and is continuously stored in a sealed container (for instance a glass jar), it is perfectly safe to eat as long as you are over 1 year old. In fact, pasteurized honey is inferior in quality. The pollen and spores will remain in there either way, even if they're dead and can only be removed by (expensive) filtering. So if you got an allergy to that, don't eat honey. But they (pollen, yeasts) are not generally harmful. Botulism is not a concern unless you take medication that reduces the amount of acid your stomach produces.

Acid inhibits the growth in the stomach, your (good) bacteria in the gut (after the acid has been neutralized) will then continue to protect you. Since infants don't have sufficient/stable composition of bacteria yet, they are in (higher) danger of getting botulism. But even then, they rarely get infected. No point in taking the risk, tho.

Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it will draw moisture from it's surroundings (hence the sealed container). This effectively prevents pathogens to grow, preserving the honey as long as the water content of the honey remains at or below 18%.

In fact, here in germany, honey may not be subjected to temperatures higher than 40°C, it may contain no additives at all and the only thing you can do to it is filter the pollen out. We still don't have waves of botulism from honey here. In fact, I have never once heard of one.

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It's the property of hygroscopy that honey has that prevents the bacteria (and yeast, which is also present in honey) to grow. What this means is that the honey will "suck out" the water from the bacteria. But water is essential for all life (on earth anyway). You can make this effect visible if you put a little pile of sugar or salt on a plate or something and then put a couple of drops of water on the side of it. You will see the water getting drawn away from the point where you put it. –  Anpan Feb 6 at 19:46
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@Jefromi Botulinum bacteria will not grow or produce toxins in honey, but the spores are almost always present in raw honey. The native bacteria in the digestive tract fend off botulinum bacteria, except in infants, whose digestive flora are not sufficient developed. –  WasabiFlux Feb 6 at 20:27
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It is perfectly safe to eat as long as you are over 1 year old - babies should not eat honey because of the botulism issue. –  Kate Gregory Feb 6 at 20:28
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@Anpan If there's important new information in the comments it's best to edit it in (which I did) not just acknowledge in the comments. It's generally helpful to readers, and especially in this case, we don't want anyone feeding honey to a baby because they read the post and not the comments. –  Jefromi Feb 6 at 22:08
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@Jefromi: "Water Activity" is the concept people are talking around (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_activity) ...It's basically a rating that describes, not how much water is in a substance, but how available the contained water is for reactions. Honey has a water activity number of 0.6. Most fungi require a water activity of at least .7, and most bacteria require .9 or above. Pure water is the base line with a water activity of 1. –  Satanicpuppy Feb 7 at 16:29

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