Sweet & Sickening: Can Old Honey Make You Ill?

You've probably heard that honey is the sweet nectar of the gods. But what happens when this sticky, golden goodness goes bad? Can old honey make you sick? Well, let's find out!

Sweet & Sickening: Can Old Honey Make You Ill?

The Buzz on Honey

Honey has been a staple in our diets for thousands of years. Bees create it by collecting nectar from flowers and storing it in their hives. This sweet substance is made up of glucose and fructose, with trace amounts of other sugars, vitamins, minerals and magic.

People have long believed that honey contains medicinal properties so potent, that it's been used to treat everything from burns to sore throats to broken hearts!

But enough about its supposed health benefits... What we want to know is how safe it is to eat old or spoiled honey?

Does Honey Go Bad?

Honey doesn't spoil like other foods because bacteria can't grow on it due to its low water content and high sugar concentration (I guess bees are onto something here).

However, over time natural enzymes break down some of the sugars resulting in crystallization and color changes- which give an indication about the age but not necessarily quality - even after several years.

If your jar of honey looks different than when you initially purchased months ago (or was passed down like great-grandma's prized possession) don’t worry just yet! Crystallization stores well textures might mean better flavor along with many slight variations physicochemical characteristics..

Then again...we all know how dangerous Grandma’s urn could be..How bad could expired honey be anyway?!

Signs Your Honey Has Turned

There are a few things you should look out for if you're worried your honey may have gone off:

  1. Mold
  2. Fermentation
  3. Foaming
  4. Odor change
  5. Bad aftertaste

If you see — or worse, taste— any of these signs in your honey please proceed to the toilet bowl...

Can Old Honey Make You Sick?

The good news is that ingesting spoiled honey is generally safe for healthy adults unless soaked in streptococcus mutant's worst nightmare.

However, people with weakened immune systems, children under one year old and pregnant women are more susceptible to botulism from consuming contaminated food including raw honey which can lead to a potentially fatal condition called infant botulism- where symptoms such as constipation weak crying irritability sudden crippled state without fever general unresponsiveness lethargy lack muscle tone excess drool urinary retention and respiratory distress clearly seen.

You have been warned!

How To Properly Store Your Honey

To prevent honey from spoiling be sure to:

  1. Keep it tightly sealed
  2. Store it in a cool dry place at room temperature
  3. Don't mix different kinds of honeys together because its like mixing family members.. ya just don’t do it
  4. Buy or gift within expiration dates-printed on every jar.
  5. Most Important: Use common sense and astuteness -if uncertain then err on safe side & toss! If day-old sushi makes you nervous then so should mold-filled sweet bees syrup 😉

Your best bet is probably buying small jars of fresh bees’ bounty instead & rotating stock hoping avoid potential ill effects..


So whether we're spreading it on our toast, adding a dollop into our tea, rubbing into wounds (myth but worth mentioning-please consult medical expert always), or drizzling it over Greek yogurt like those commercials where everything perfectly comes together, honey is delicious no matter how you consume it!

But remember; although freshly made honey has antimicrobial properties (some studies indicated)- expired honeys immunity may not provide ample shield to fend off bacteria, it is still prudent to toss honey if unsure of quality (or age)- especially when gifting or consuming by high risk individuals due which should be warmed!

Use your common sense folks! ...And as the bees say: “Fly Safe” 🙂

Forgive the in bee tween humor..I couldn’t resist

Table 1- Spoilage Indicators
Spoilage Indicator Cause
Moldy Crystals Exposure to moisture and air
Fermented Presence of yeast or harmful microbes
Foaming Fermentation has occurred
Odorous Because we get carried away with our sniffing skills some things smell great while others…not so much let’s leave it there.

Note how easy that was...

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