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Hydrogen Peroxide Level is Not Suitable Indicator of Antimicrobial Activity of Honey

13 August 2012  |  Admin

A new scientific study involving researches from two Australian universities once more highlights problems with how some brands measure the 'active' levels of their honey.

Lets first reiterate that all honeys are 'active' to some degree, through the existence of a level of hydrogen peroxide activity. There is nothing unique about having hydrogen peroxide 'active'. Two issues though are that the level of hydrogen peroxide can vary greatly between honeys and honey samples, and also that as it is not stable it can naturally disappear over time.

Manuka honey has earned its positive reputation through the fact that *some* (and only some) contains a unique, extra, stable antibacterial property, over and above any hydrogen peroxide aspect. Hence under the international UMF® quality standard the hydrogen peroxide level is not included.

However as anyone can use the term 'Active' on their labels, what some brands do is to measure and include the hydrogen peroxide level in their activity level (eg through a total activity rating) - in order to present a higher number on the label to consumers.

The university researchers in this latest Australian study make note that "Honey is a complex product and other components may modulate activity, which can be further affected by commercial processing procedures.". Their interest was in the relation between the hydrogen peroxide activity (they used several Australian honey types to study) and the antimicrobial activity of the honey.

In conclusion they found that hydrogen peroxide levels "are not reliable predictors of the antimicrobial activity of honey", and they also noted "honey destined for medicinal use should be retested post-processing to ensure that activity levels have not changed", as well as that hydrogen peroxide "alone was not sufficient to inhibit C. albicans." Study summary here.

The New Zealand Honey Shop's point of view is that while it would be easy (and cheaper) for us to also supply products that state an 'Active' level based on including the hydrogen peroxide activity - this research further validates our policy when it comes to manuka honey of only supplying genuine UMF® quality standard manuka honey.


Our full range of UMF® standard manuka honey can be seen here.

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