Tests carried out by retail publication The Grocer on a random selection of jars of manuka honey being sold in the U.K. found that some manuka-loving Brits may have been buying bogus produce.
Given the fact that more jars of manuka are sold each year than are actually being produced this doesn't come as much of a surprise. It's reported that only around 1,700 tonnes of legitimate manuka is produced in New Zealand every year but three times that much is marketed and sold as manuka around the world.
Manuka honey is only produced by honey bees feeding on the manuka tree, which grows throughout New Zealand. It contains a unique and vital ingredient called methylglyoxal (MGO), which is responsible for the product's Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA). It is this that gives manuka its antibacterial properties, which has led to it being hailed as a superfood and praised for a wide range of health benefits from treating wounds to aiding digestion.
Existing guidelines do not identify a minimum level of MGO content for honey to be branded as manuka, meaning this can vary greatly between brands. So how do you make the right choice and get what you pay for?
According to the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) Honey Association genuine manuka honey complies with all five of the following criteria:
1. It has the name UMF clearly stated on the front label.
2. It is packed into jars and labelled in New Zealand.
3. It is from a New Zealand company licensed to use the name UMF.
4. It has the UMF licensee's name on the front label.
5. It has a rating of UMF5 or more. The UMF rating is an internationally-recognised trademark, guarantees the presence of required manuka ingredients DHA (dihydroxyacetone), Methylglyoxal and Leptosperin and assures the purity and quality of the honey.
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