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How to identify real Manuka honey

Posted by Doug Wallace on

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This whole "Manuka Craze", that even I have found myself caught up in, had led me to do another journey into what I call "The Project" Series in my blog, where I dive into finding the quality version of products I love…..and exposing the bogus ones

Real Manuka production is down in New Zeland, perhaps as much as 80%, but more and more [supposed] Manuka is popping up on the shelves in America….something ain't adding up.

Those "hustlers" know consumers have a tendency to eyeball a "latest craze" word on a product label, grab the product, throw it in the shopping cart, and do very little research on what it really in the jar or bottle…….no worries, I love putting in the work to see who's real and who's fake.

I love putting together a stylish and visually appealing Health Blog for the "Social Media Masses", but this kind of research……..well, this is what I really do!!!!

Manuka, the quick, scientific bla-bla-bla ….

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities.

In Manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound — dihydroxyacetone — that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers. It seems, MG and/or "something else" gives this honey its "miracle" properties, however, the specifics of what makes this miracle honey is still hotly debated, and is to a certain degree, unknown, or at least not fully understood.

Take the Manuka Quiz…..

If you wanted to buy Manuka, then which of the brands pictured below are UMF, Unique Manuka Factor Association of New Zealand licensed products (more on UMF in a minute) ????

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The Answer?…NONE OF THEM are UMF Association licensed products……

Does that mean they are bogus products? "Bogus" is perhaps perspective. My guess is they are real raw manuka honey, but not "top of the line manuka", like they want us to think (although they charge "top of the line" prices). What it is really saying is that since none of the above products are UMF Association licensed products, (The UMF Association tests and guarantee their MG levels), so, if not UMF licensed, you are taking their word for their rating on the level of key ingredients in their honey.

What determines if a given brand of Manuka "Top of the Line"?

…..a VERIFIABLE LARGE AMOUNT of the key chemical markers DHA, MGO, Leptosperin, and [I think] antibacterial methylglyoxal"MG", and others. All Manuka doesn't have these high level of chemical components (it may be Manuka, but not the desired, potent, most healthy, Highest Grade Manuka), so don't jump the gun and grab anything that says MANUKA.
The high level of "key chemicals" is what we are seeking for all this cash we are paying. Ratings of 10+ and above (10+, 15+, 20+, etc.) are highest grades of Manuka in New Zealand.

An example of "jumping the gun" is the Wedderspoon product pictured above in the middle, it seems to get good reviews on Amazon (and "seems" to be viewed by American consumers as the best Manuka available in the USA), but you will still see reviewers who make comments such as….

"The results of an analysis performed by NZLabs on two different Wedderspoon products were disclosed yesterday. The analysis included a jar labeled as Active 16+ and another jar labeled as Active 12+, both of which were found to have non-peroxide and total peroxide activity of less than 8.2 which is as low as the test goes. This suggests that the potency of the Wedderspoon Manuka Honey had to be either extremely low or nonexistent. It certainly confirms that the honeys were not of the potency that they were labeled as having.

"This is not only unethical and dishonest, it's an absolute disgrace," says Frank Buonanotte, CEO of Honeymark International which is a U.S. importer of Manuka honey. "This type of inactive Manuka honey will not yield the same medicinal results that people have come to expect." .

"Wedderspoon has been able to get away with this deceptive and fraudulent practice because the FDA doesn't recognize honey of any kind as being an antibacterial agent. Therefore, they do not have a role in regulating the potency level of Manuka honey. Nevertheless, consumers have come to recognize the numbers indicated on the label as the potency level. Wedderspoon has twisted the general public's understanding of Manuka honey's antibacterial activity by misleading their customers into thinking that they were getting more than what they paid for"

My Note: …on Wedderspoon, is that it is "perceived" to be the top of the line, best readily available Manuka in the USA, for those who have not researched the subject and are just grabbing something off the shelf …..just an observation and opinion

Synergy Healing Honey, the one on the right above, was the one I was always using (or more aptly put, wasting my money on), in the end, the whole color, look, and texture of Synergy honey changed, and someone wrote Synergy was not real and true Manuka, and this is how I dived into all this (which is something I do when a company pisses me off…they picked the wrong dude to rip-off)

Airborne, (above left), was tested and found lacking too: read this review for more info

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…if you don't see a yellow and black logo like the above left on your Manuka, then it is not one of the 50+ UMF licensed companies (there may be variations, like the above right Mossups, my current brand that has a 5+ or 10+ inside of the yellow octagons above and no words underneath the logo).

ALTHOUGH, some legit UMF Manuka is distributed by USA resellers, and you might not see the logo, but you at least should see the UMF License number from the original UMF Company that supplies the UMF Manuka or something on the label to trace it back to the original UMF manufacturer. For example the Medi-Bee Manuka on the AMAZON list below has a Red Cross UMF Logo, but has the address of Comvita, a licensed reseller.

What is UMF?

In New Zealand, Honey producers have developed a scale for rating the potency of manuka honey. The rating is called UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor.

The UMF rating corresponds with the concentration key chemical components in Manuka . To be considered a Manuka tested and confirmed with various chemical component levels, the manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10+ UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as "UMF Manuka Honey"

There are only around 60 companies licensed via the UMF association, although it seems that anyone can place a number on their Manuka Honey jar and/or call it active (As I understand it UMF doesn't even like the name "Active" anymore because they don't want words that imply Therapeutic claims on food labels)

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