Is Your Manuka Honey Truly Unique?
Often covered by the press and glossy magazines with ringing celebrity endorsements,is sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’ due to its apparent positive effects on our wellbeing. From coughs to wound healing, the versatility of Manuka sees it used to create a wide array of products.
Unfortunately, some products that are marked ‘Manuka’ are not everything they say they are and are accompanied by a price tag that doesn’t offer true value for money. How can you be certain that the Manuka you’re investing in truly is the real deal?
What Makes Manuka Honey Special?
With the cold months set to be upon us, it’s worth being reminded that honey is great to use to soothe a cough. In fact, health professionals in England have recommended that people take honey to help soothe coughs, instead of turning to antibiotics first. Honey is ideal to use for a number of reasons; the smooth and tasty texture, of course, but also because most types of honey have a varying degree of anti-bacterial activity thanks to the presence of Hydrogen Peroxide.
However, a number of factors, including light, heat, time and commercial processing can affect the effectiveness of Hydrogen Peroxide. One of the main differences between Manuka and other honey types is that its natural antibacterial element is due to high levels of a chemical compound called Methylglyoxal (MGO), which provides a more stable antibacterial properties.
The Letters and Numbers on Manuka Honey Labels – What Do They Mean?
You will often see a combination of letters and numbers on Manuka honey labels – TA (‘Total Activity’), NPA (‘Non-Peroxide Activity’) and the aforementioned MGO are all commonly found and refer to a particular the potency of certain elements found in honey.
Unfortunately, Methylglyoxal can be added to honey after it has been harvested, which has led to many counterfeit products bearing the ‘Manuka’ name1,2. So how can you be sure that you can trust the labels that you read?
UMF Ratings – A Great Indicator of Manuka Quality
Another testing system that you may find is UMF (‘Unique Manuka Factor’). This is a trademark that is owned by the UMF Honey Association, formed to ensure that firstly, the honey they test is indeed genuine Manuka, placing renewed buying confidence in retailers and customers alike.
The second part of the UMFHA’s testing is designed as a grading system for the potency of the Manuka (represented by ‘the number’). The higher the UMF grading, the more potent the Manuka inside is (this is why a UMF20+ has a higher strength than UMF10+, for example).
What makes the UMF ratings system unique is that it tests for all three of the naturally-occurring unique chemical markers that are found in Manuka honey – Methylglyoxal, Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and Leptosperin. Other grading systems will look at different elements – the TA test is a measure of Hydrogen Peroxide content which exists in all honey and the MG/MGO test only looks for the Methylglyoxal content, for example.
Effectively, the UMF system closes down the avenues that counterfeiters can go down – but there is now an extra assurance that customers need to be aware of...
Why You Should Buy New Zealand Manuka Honey
<>Aside from its potential benefits to our wellbeing, one of the other reasons why Manuka honey is so sought after by celebrities and the public alike is that it is one of nature’s rarest gifts. Leptospermum scoparium grows predominantly on New Zealand’s North Island, in areas that have been untouched by urbanisation and domestic pesticides. This provides the plant with the ideal environment in which to grow, meaning that the chemical makeup it produces is as pure as nature allows it to be.
In the wake of Manuka fraud, the New Zealand government have recently introduced a new definition as to what comprises genuine Manuka honey. The new guidelines state that any product intended for export that has been marked ‘Manuka’ must be tested independently. This ensures that all Manuka honey that makes its way from New Zealand to warehouses, stores and the kitchens of people all over the world is genuine.
Here at Comvita, our UMF Manuka honey is tested and carries UMF trademark to ensure that our customers receive only the highest quality of Manuka produce, rarely available elsewhere in the world. Why not take a look around our UMF Manuka honey range to learn more?