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UMF label is still the best measure of Manuka Honey’s healing properties.

12 February 2008  |  Admin

The established measure of UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) on the label is still the best means of showing its antibacterial levels. This according to the Professor Molan of the Waikato University Honey Research Unit. He has reiterated this recently after one manuka honey producer announced plans to place the level of the active component MGO on their honey.

Although MGO (methylglyoxal) is now known to be the active component that gives manuka honey its antibacterial properties, other research clearly shows that the level of MGO does not directly correspond with the level of antibacterial property. Hence using it would be quite misleading to consumers. Professor Molan explains the difference is due to the complex interactions with other components of the honey that cause the actual level of antibacterial activity to vary.

Research done at the University of Waikato shows that for example a MGO level of 50 corresponds to a UMF antibacterial level of UMF 5. The UMF system, that has been established for a while now, measures the actual antibacterial level of a given batch of honey by testing it against Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria species that is most common in infected wounds. A MGO level of 500, ten times higher (than MGO 50 / UMF 5) only produced a UMF level of 25. That being only five times greater on the UMF measure, and not a UMF50 (ten times higher, that might have been expected).

A consumer who is comparing MGO 50 to MGO 500 on a label would not actually be getting honey that is ten times higher in antibacterial activity, and is at high risk of being misled. As most people want to use active manuka honey for its natural antibacterial properties, sticking to looking at the tested UMF level is in their best interest.

With the UMF standard having been in world wide use for many years, it is also what has been relied on for much of the clinical use and research that supports active manuka honey.

There are already enough problems with some traders / suppliers being misleading to consumers by passing off genuine UMF manuka honey through the use of overly similar but actually meaningless terms, without further confusing consumers with another unit of measure. In the UK there has been UMP, UMV, AMF, all of which are aimed to trick people that they are getting authentic active manuka honey with proven antibacterial properties, when actually the UMP, UMV and AMF versions are only ordinary manuka with little or no meaningful antibacterial activity.

The ‘UMF’ term is actually a registered trademark, used by all the genuine suppliers, and is there to help the consumer know what they are getting. People may not always need a high UMF factor honey, but they should look for it on the actual jar if it is what they are seeking, regardless of where they get it from.

The New Zealand Honey ShopTM website shows you examples of genuine UMF manuka honey .

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