Dr. Dariush Minaei Tehrani and Dr. Majid Talebi spoke about the honey analysis group of the university in an interview with the Public Relations Office.
Dr. Minaei: Some of the techniques we use are specific to SBU.
Dr. Talebi: Today, pharmacists all over the world have turned to the production of medicine based on honey.
Dr. Dariush Minaei Tehrani is an associate professor of the Department of Microbiology and the dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology. Dr. Majid Talebi is also in charge of the biochemistry laboratory of SBU. We had a conversation with them under the pretext of launching Beheshti honey analysis group. Here is part of the interview:
Would you please introduce yourself.
Dr. Minaei: In the name of God. I am Dariush Minaei Tehrani. I have been working in the field of honey for some time. As you know, honey is one of the most widely consumed natural products in Iran, and there are many frauds on this product. One of our tasks in these years has been trying to determine the authenticity of honey. Therefore, we have considered a large number of honey elements, including sucrose, proline, HMF and amylase properties. These four elements determine the naturalness of honey. In these years we have innovated good techniques. In the case of sucrose, which is one of the most important elements for identifying the authenticity of honey, we invented a completely novel technique for the first time in the world, which is specific to our laboratory, and we were able to expand this technique and put it into practical use. Currently, many laboratories are requesting this technique and have corresponded with us, and we are busy transferring this technology.
Dr. Talebi: In the name of Allah, the compassionate the merciful. I am Majid Talebi, head of the laboratory of the Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology. This activity has been started as a group work for several years, under the supervision of Dr. Minaei, and several pollinologist and biochemist professors are engaged in the activity. This work first started with the invention of a technique and various techniques were studied in the laboratory and then we came to beekeepers’ honey analysis all over the country. At this stage, the beekeepers sent us honey samples and received a quality certificate. In the following, considering the people’s request and the issue of honey fraud, we introduced the high-quality honeys that we had analyzed. In the meantime, we started a packaging unit and sent the identified high-quality honeys in packages to different parts of the country.
If you like, tell us about the details of this project. You have been involved in this activity for about two years. How did the process begin and what stage has it reached now?
Dr. Talebi: The professors who are engaged in this group work were divided into three teams. One team only deals with scientific topics and collects all the current scientific materials in this field. An Instagram page, website and various channels have been launched to publish these materials and inform the public about these issues. Another team of professors works solely on analysis and reviews samples submitted by beekeepers and the public. A team is also active in commerce and commercialization and promotes high-quality honeys. The important thing is that after about one year of people’s acquaintance with this project, they trusted us a lot and realized that they should not buy honey from traders or shopkeepers, because they can get honey from people who are analysts themselves and the honey they get has been analyzed by them. In fact, our work is not in such a way that that the beekeeper gives us a sample, we confirm and buy a large amount for the packaging unit. Rather, if, we receive, for example, five hundred kilos of honey, we analyze them all and send them to the packaging unit. This has made people trust us. We also installed the honey quality label and the elements indicating the quality and medicinal nature of the honey on the packages. We also provide consultation. People and beekeepers can make an appointment with us and get advice over the phone. This work is still being followed and we intend to introduce high-quality medicinal honey to people.
One of our concerns is to use university researches in the industry in order to benefit people. To what extent do you think this ground has been provided? What are the weaknesses? Tell us about your experiences in these two years.
Dr. Minaei: The connection between science and industry is very important. People who are interested in bringing their research into the industry should enter this field. If they can understand the problems of the industry and establish the necessary communication, they will achieve success. These people should not have economic vision from the beginning and they should solve the problems in order to progress. When the problems are solved, this will help economically. If a researcher proceeds with the vision of solving the problems and not having a purely economic vision, he will be very successful and will have the economic benefit later on.
Dr. Talebi: This project was warmly welcomed by people, and they sent us requests for getting advice on how to prevent diseases by honey. We do not consider honey as a food, but as a medicine. The basis of this issue can also be seen in the Qur'an, where God says in this heavenly book: "in which there is healing for people". Actually, our work started with this verse and we saw that there is a miracle in honey. Unfortunately, during these few years, people introduced fake honey into the market in Iran. The people's suggestions caused a disease prevention polyclinic to be set up in the next few months by professors who have worked in the scientific field of honey in order to give advice to the applicants. Today, pharmacists all over the world have turned to the production of medicine based on honey. In our own country, the production of syrups based on honey has also started. Flu medicines are also produced based on this substance. For this reason, this project can be expanded both in terms of research and income generation.
What is your opinion about the situation of honey production in Iran? It seems that there is a good potential in this field thanks to Iran's good climatic range. How are the tools and methods of honey production in Iran? To what extent does the use of these tools and methods provide desirable standards?
Dr. Minaei: The variety of climate in Iran has created a variety of honey. This is one of the advantages of Iran. Iran is the third producer of honey in the world, but unfortunately, due to existing restrictions, we have moved away from exporting. This has caused this industry to become a little local and unable to communicate with outside the country. The techniques used today are outdated. There are new techniques in the world that our beekeepers do not have access to due to these limitations. I hope that these techniques will enter Iran in the future to benefit both the production and the quality of honey. However, due to the high demand for honey in Iran, unfortunately, some beekeepers use other ways than the natural way, which affects the quality of our country's honey. I hope that through the cooperation we have with producers, exporters and distributors, we will be able to marginalize those people not offering natural honey or producing inferior honey and make them turn to the production of natural honey. So, we can predict a future that we can produce good honey and start exporting.