A bit less than one year ago, a new work group was born inside the young  ISO Technical Committee dedicated to “Bee Products” (ISO/TC 34/SC 19, with the aim to set the parameters for propolis-based products’ standardization.

Alfredo Fachini – Scientific Director of B Natural – is in charge to represent the Italian group at the meetings of this work group, a biweekly appointment now taking place via videoconference.

Here is his update on the state of play.

The large number of participants, more than 40, representing almost 15 countries from Brazil to New Zealand, demonstrates the importance of this product worldwide, but also makes quite complicated managing discussions.

The real difficulty, however, is finding a common ground for normalizing such a heterogeneous product, that follows different rules in each country. The competence and availability of the more than qualified participants are the key to overcoming the differences and trying to find a common point of view. To this end, the various countries have made available scientific and legislative material useful for setting a shared cultural base and supporting an informed decision making.

One of the first debate to arise, has been around the definition of “Propolis”, since it shows relevant differences based on the place and time of collection. Some evaluation parameters have been defined and two wide varieties of propolis have been identified:

  1. Populus spp. Propolis: brown propolis, typical of temperate climates, where there is a prevalence of resins coming from various poplar species. This variety includes most of the European propolis.
  2. Baccharis Propolis: green or greenish propolis, typical of Brazil, where the predominant resins are those of Baccharis dracunculifolia.

While keeping in mind that there are many other varieties of propolis, we decided that the regulation will be drawn up based on these two. Afterwards, all the other varieties will be defined and studied by a new sub-group composed of beekeeping experts.

For the purpose of setting a single method to evaluate the different kind of raw propolis and derived extracts, we agreed to constitute another dedicated sub-group, composed of only the analytical specialists: among the Committee are definitely some of the  world’s leading experts in this area! This small working group will have the aim to define the parameters and the type of analysis to be carried out. I asked Prof. Nicola Volpi to participate as Italian representative.

The enthusiasm around the subject – together with the chance to leverage more time, due to the Covid-19 lockdown – have accelerated the works, but due to the complex and difficult harmonization of the regulatory differences between the various countries, we agreed to give us 6 more months to complete the work.

Let’s see. Stay tuned…