Buy real NZ Manuka UMF honey click here, or else please read on

Good quality UMF Manuka honey is in short supply. Bees growers in New Zealand are not able to get the yield this year and the activity level is not as good as previous years. So it would be prudent to check with your honey suppliers to obtain a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to ensure you are purchasing genuine UMF Manuka Honey. For those of use unfamiliar with COA, you can refer to these links for sample1 and sample2.

Recently the Consumer Council in Hong Kong had allegedly discovered adulteration of the honey in about one-quarter of the 55 samples of honey tested. It is still being debated if this is a consequence of false positive whereby sugar syrup is showing up in geniune manuka honey due to obsolete test methods or indeed honey has been contaminated in the export process to Hong Kong.

Bee Products Standards Council chairman Jim Edwards said "If the Consumer Council had discovered adulteration of the honey, then he could only speculate about how it would have taken place. We have no evidence that deliberate adulteration is taking place in New Zealand,'' Mr Edwards said.

There remained a possibility it was being diluted overseas, however, ''that depends on how the product is leaving the country'', he said.

''If there are exports of greater bulk leaving the country we have less control" Read the full article here

British laboratory testing has found that honey labelled by 12 of 27 as New Zealand produce had none of the unique antibacterial properties attributed to manuka. Read the full article here

The truth is about 70% of manuka honey produced is active. There is a clear incentive to use untested or adulterated manuka honey to fetch a higher price. The main methods of doing so are by adding less active honey or by adding sugar syrup.  Furthermore some can heat up the manuka honey to get a short-lived high activity for testing which can last for about 10-15 days afterwhich almost all the activity will subside.

The take-away from all these is that one should buy manuka honey brands that have been packed, tested and certified in New Zealand. Buy brands that New Zealanders themselves are consuming and not those brands they used for export purposes. Alternatively buy those that has been retested by AsureQuality Singapore Pte Ltd

Confused about UMF vs MGO vs Active Manuka Honey?

What is the difference between UMF, MGO and Active Manuka Honey

All pure honey is good for you because they contain a varying level of the enzyme glucose oxidase introduced by bees which slowly releases Hydrogen Peroxide that gives the antiseptic capabiity.

Teatree (Leptospermum scoparium) is a shrub which occurs in New Zealand, where it is called Manuka. Honey derived from the manuka tree often exhibits antibacterial activity (UMF) that is unrelated to the content of the hydrogen peroxide which is responsible for the antibacterial activity of other normal honeys.

Studies at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany and at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, have now proven that the Manuka's antibacterial properties are somewhat related to methylglyoxal content and other unknown compounds. This unique activity of manuka honey is due to the presence of methyl glyoxal, the origin of which has not so far been determined, although it is well known among beekeepers that non-peroxide activity increases with storage.

It would also seem that there is variation in the amount of dihydroxyacetone in the nectar and that certain manuka trees have the potential to produce honeys with high nonperoxide antibacterial activity, whereas others do not.

It is believed that the Manuka honey's is effective for treatment of antibiotic resistant MRSA super bugs, bed sores and other external ulcerative conditions,, E Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus (the most common cause of wound infection) and Streptococcus Pyogenes ( stubborn , often anti biotic resistant bacteria which inflame and cause sore throats).

UMF Manuka Honey

UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. The factor is a measure of the non-peroxide antibacterial rating over and above methylglyoxal content of the honey. It therefore includes antibacterial activity beyond methylglyoxal. Manuka honey's antibacterial potency have many rating but the UMF overall rating is a measured of the strength of the non-peroxide antibacterial activity. You will often see ratings of  UMF 5+, UMF 10+, UMF 15+, and UMF 20+.  The higher the rating the higher the antibacterial strength. The '+' sign means it could be higher the 15 but not less.

The UMF rating is audited and regulated by UMFHA in New Zealand. Manuka honey that carries the UMF rating is tracked. Unfortunately there is no consistency in the labeling and logos for UMF.

MGO Manuka Honey

MGO is the Methylglyoxal content  that plays a part of honey's antibacterial properties. While MGO plays an important part in Manuka honey's antibacterial properties, it isn't the  only factor. However if you are interested in the conversion of antibacterial strength between UMF and MGO, the table below may be helpful

UMF 10+  = MGOTM 100
UMF 15+  = MGOTM 250
UMF 20+  = MGOTM 400
UMF 25+  = MGOTM 550 

In a peer-reviewed paper published in the Czech Journal of Food Science, the German researchers show good correlation between methylglyoxal levels in 61 manuka honey samples and their antibacterial ratings in equivalent phenol concentration

UMF and MGO ratings are both used to indicate the antibacterial strength of Manuka Honey.

UMF is the industry standard. MGO is only used by Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd.

UMF and MGO measure the strength of Manuka honey in different ways, however there is a relationship between the level of Methylglyoxal and the Non Perocide Activity (as measured by the UMF).

If you would like to compare the strength of a honey from MGO to UMF or vice versa, the table above can be a rough guide.

Active Honey

'Active' means there is some level of peroxide activity which we know that all honey does have that glucose oxidase enzyme. It is likely that this honey has been mixed with some manuka honey. 'Active' here could mean test including the normal hydrogen peroxide antispectic and other antibacterial activity. So Active 20+ does not necessary mean it is related to the antibacterial property of non-peroxide agents. Click here to see how heat and storage affect NPA activity

nubee active manukamanuka honey active 12NZ active manuka

Which is better?

The question we hear frequently is how do I know I am paying for the real thing when buying Manuka honey. One way is to ensure that the packaging for the UMF have the following:

a) Produced and packed in New Zealand

b) UMF licensee number of the producer and a UMF label (unfortuntely there is no consistent labelling)

c) Batch Number

d) Expiry Date

In addition it does not harm to check on the following prior to your purchase of UMF honey

umf manuka honey check


You will also find a list of NZ honey producers here

The Manuka brand has been hijacked by many retailers and producer due to the high growth and interest in Manuka honey. There is much evidence of fake brands leveraging on the hype including Active, OMHA.  The reality is the amount of methylglyoxal in these honeys is probably around 10 to 25 mg/kgs way below an effective level but is able to sell at close to UMF 10. It is a case of caveat emptor (buyer's beware).

There is an interesting article originally from Fairfax NZ News which reported that of the 33 jars of "manuka honey" that we on sale in Singapore that they have tested 15 were not "true to label". Some possessed none of the activity claimed. Others have less than the label stated.

It appears that the misleading New Zealand product situation is serious enough for a group of manuka honey producers to fund a project to develop a fool-proof means to determine the real manuka honey. They are developing a chemical marker test called high-resolution mass spectrometry to produce a chemical profile of manuka honey, against which all honeys being marketed as manuka can be compared.

For the above reasons, some brands from NZ like Manuka Health have decided to go the MGO route

Also interesting to note that the Australian "manuka" honey is from is own variety of manuka tree, called the jellytree. "Manuka" honey from Australia comes from Leptospermum polygalifolium tree vs  Leptospermum scoparium in New Zealand. So there is a difference.

Also the famous tea-tree oil does not come from the Leptospermum species of plants. Tea tree oil is produced from the Australian group of trees of the Melaleuca genus, named similarly as another source of tea. It is from Melaleuca plants that the well known tea tree oil is produced.

Where are all the Singapore natural honey from?

Singapore imports over 60% of natural honey from New Zealand. However close to 40% are imported from Australia, China, United Kingdom, USA and the rest of the world. (Data extracted from UN Comtrade)

singapore honey imports 2012

You will be pleased to know that Singaporean's appetite for honey from New Zealand have increased a whopping 54% YoY from 2011 to 2012. But one should note the the volume of imports in terms of kgs from Australia and China has also increased.

Singapore NZ honey import growth

Please take a look at which countries buy the most NZ honey here

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