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Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 46 (3) Aug. 2023 / JTAS-2657-2022


Pathogenic Bacterial Communities Isolated and Identified in Stingless Bee (Kelulut) Honey from Selected Farms in Terengganu

Noor Aimi Shazana Mohd Yusoff, Fisal Ahmad, Amir Izzwan Zamri, Samsul Bahri Abdul Razak, Muhammad Fauzi Mahmud and Tuan Zainazor Tuan Chilek

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 46, Issue 3, August 2023


Keywords: Food handlers, foodborne illness, kelulut, pathogenic bacteria, stingless bee honey

Published on: 30 August 2023

In Malaysia, stingless bees can be categorised into two genera: Melipona and Trigona, known as “Kelulut”. The high demand for Kelulut honey boosts the production of the honey industry. Previous studies reported that stingless bee (Kelulut) honey and its products were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria during harvesting and processing. This research aims to isolate and identify the pathogenic bacteria in Kelulut honey. Forty-eight samples of Kelulut honey (open and closed pot) and propolis were obtained from selected farms in Terengganu by focusing on a major stingless bee species available in Malaysia, Heterotrigona itama. In addition, the swabbing technique was done on the wooden beehive of the Kelulut to evaluate the environmental contamination. The pathogenic bacteria were isolated using specifically selected agar, such as Bacillus cereus agar (for B. cereus), Baird-Parker agar (for Staphylococcus aureus), and MacConkey agar (for other pathogenic bacteria), which were confirmed through a biochemical test. All samples were analysed, and the results showed that B. cereus (7/48), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (10/48), Pantoea spp. (11/48), Serratia plymuthica (6/48), and S. aureus (9/48) were obtained in the samples. This study indicates that Kelulut honey was contaminated with B. cereus, P. aeruginosa, Pantoea spp., S. plymuthica, and S. aureus. Isolated pathogenic bacteria may exist in the Kelulut honey through food handlers, utensils, and the environment. Hence, the stakeholders should strictly follow good standard operating procedures and guidelines by the Kelulut honey industry to prevent foodborne illness.

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e-ISSN 2231-8542

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