Deciphering manuka honey: UMF15+, MGO400, 24+ Bio Active, KFactor16, TA. And LOTS OF FRAUDS.

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do you know how to choose manuka honey

Manuka honey is one of the most researched honeys in the world. It has different markers and grades, all at expensive prices. And lots and lots of frauds.

Due to different policies genuine producers have graded manuka honey using different letters and numbers.
I have already covered them in the article I want to buy manuka honey. What is UMF 16+, MGO 400+, Active?

Here are some updates and clarifications:

A (Active) or TA (Total Activity) or BioActive

A or TA or BioActive based brands measure the hydrogen peroxide activity.
The associated numbers refer to naturally occurring peroxide activity levels, which are levels found in all types of honey (whether manuka, acacia, clover etc). They are also known to be unstable (decrease) with time, heat and light. A ‘TA’ honey cannot be compared to a genuine UMF® certified jar.
It is simply o way of grading somehow the honey, to make it more valuable in the consumers’ eyes.
They are usually much cheaper.

ACTIVE is more used in USA and Canada. Food and Drug Administration or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, do not support the medical claims covered by Unique Manuka Factor Association in New Zealand, and do not approve using their grades. The producers that use ACTIVE grade, followed by a number, take also into consideration some other factors that define a honey’s quality: live enzymes, pollen count, chemical/residue analysis, antioxidant levels, the raw status or unpasteurisation process and various other phytochemical factors found in Manuka honey. In North America, Wedderspoon is considered a very good and reliable manuka honey producer.

MGO™ (methylglyoxal)

– A trademark of Manuka Health New Zealand, referring strictly to the amount of MGO (aka MG) found in it. Scientific evidence has confirmed methylglyoxal as one of the key compounds naturally occurring in New Zealand manuka honey. logo mgo manuka honeySome scientists considered MGO the main factor of all the antibacterial properties of honey. In 2016 Manuka Health celebrated 10 years since Thomas Henle and his team discovered the huge amounts of MGO in manuka honey and attributed its antibacterial properties to it. Compared to other honeys which can containg MGO from 0 to 5 mg/kg, manuka honey has 100 to even 800 mg/kg.
(more here: The celebration of manuka honey. Is MGO700 better than MGO300? Is manuka honey toxic?)
– It’s a quality system introduced in 2007
– It ranges from MGO™30 to MGO™550 (30mg/kg to 550mg/kg)

MGO™30 (containing 30mg/kg) – table grade
MGO™100 (containing 100mg/kg) – table grade
MGO™250 (containing 250mg/kg) – table grade
MGO™400 (containing 400mg/kg) – antibacterial grade, suited for skin therapy.
MGO™550 (containing 550mg/kg) – high antibacterial grade, suited for skin therapy.

! What you buy is not necessary what you have.
Not because of the producers, who are very strict and trustful, but because MGO quantity changes in time. What is written on the label is the amount of MGO found in honey at the time of testing and packing. According to Analytica Laboratories the content of MGO (MG) changes a lot in time, going from an initial 196 mg/kg to even 765 mg/kg after 8 months of storage at 27ºC.
Why does the MGO content increase? Because another component of manuka honey, DHA turns to MGO in time. Below there is a forecast of a sample of manuka honey, tested by Analytica Laboratories. MG stands for methylglyoxal, NPA stands for non-peroxide activity, HMF is Hydroxymethylfurfural, which is produced from the breakdown of sugar and it is used as an indicator of heat treatment and aging. Read more about all these indicators here.

mgo in manuka honey changes in time

KFACTOR™  (Key factors)

It’s a trademark of Wedderspoon company. They have created KFactor™, a holistic multi-stage authentication system named for the key factors inherent in the manuka honey, defining properties use to authenticate Manuka honey.
This grade DOES NOT stand for a therapeutic value, but for its authenticity as genuine monofloral manuka honey.
KFactor12 – guarantees that there are 65% manuka pollen grains in all the pollen grains from the honey:
KFactor16 – guarantees that there are 75% manuka pollen grains in all the pollen grains from the honey:
KFactor22 – guarantees that there are 90% manuka pollen grains in all the pollen grains from the honey.

Wedderspoon is funding research using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) imaging. This highly sensitive technology will not only measure known components, but also seek to identify additional components present only in Manuka honey. It is the synergy of live enzymes, high pollen count, DHA, methylglyoxal, and other key factors, they hope to identify by the unique NMR technology.

logo UMFHAUMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor)

– A trademark in New Zealand, which insures purity and quality.
– It refers to the non-peroxide activity in honey that is compared to disinfectant phenol. It includes the quantity of MGO found, but also other key markers like Leptosperin and DHA. It makes the best referral standard for an antibacterial manuka honey. A total quality mark.
– It is the only international quality standard, with multiple laboratories around the world able to verify test results. It also offers an independent, internationally recognised verification program. The UK’s own Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) can verify UMF® labels.
– The numbers that follow UMF refer to the percentage of phenol in water. For example UMF12 equals a 12% solution of phenol in water.
– The numbers range from 10 to 25 (for therapeutic value) The higher the rating the more potent the honey.

UMF 5+ → shows lower levels of antibacterial activity, yet this manuka honey makes an excellent nutritional supplement.
UMF10+ → Low to medium level antibacterial activity, suitable for helping to maintain good health.
UMF15+ → High antibacterial activity
UMF20+ → Very high antibacterial properties.

The UMF® mark is actually a registered trademark, invented to grade the honey abut also to protect the consumer that is getting a manuka honey that does actually contain the healing properties it is famous for.

Other simple numbers:

Other manuka honey jars display only numbers on their front label. No other letter. Practically they do not represent anything, we don’t know if that honey comes from manuka or not, it has no mark of any trustful test done. Do not buy them.

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How should we check a jar of manuka honey to see if it’s genuine?

1. If you want to be 100% sure you purchased genuine UMF® Manuka Honey, check the label for all following specifications:
– UMF® trademark on the front label (ranging from UMF5+ to UMF20+)
– New Zealand producer’s name
– producer’s UMFHA license number
– batch number
UMFHA also recommends that manuka honey should be packed into jars and labelled in New Zealand.

Other companies based in New Zealand also produce genuine manuka honey, though they are not members of UMFHA.
2. Wedderspoon guaranties genuine manuka honey, though this doesn’t say much about its antibacterial properties.

3. Manuka Health offers genuine manuka honey, we can easy recognize it from the MGO™ marker on the label.

UMF licensed Manuka Honey Producers:

On 24th of October 2016 there were 96 producers licensed (and accredited to display the UMF® mark) under UMF Honey Association. I list them here:
(In time other producers will get their licence to be able to sell genuine manuka honey. The best way to be sure they are licensed is to check their name on the UMF Honey Association webpage.)

· 100% Pure New Zealand Honey Limited (Licence # 1037)
· Alpine Silk (Licence # 2045)
· ApiHealth NZ Ltd (Licence # 1052)
· Arataki Honey Limited (Hawkes Bay) (Licence # 1004)
· Arataki Honey Limited (Rotorua) (Licence # 1003)
· Aulando NZ Ltd (Licence # 2033)
· Bee Nation (Licence # 2105)
· Bee Plus Manuka Honey (Licence # 2037)
· BeeNZ Ltd (Licence # 2188)
· BeePower International Pty Ltd (Licence # 2214)
· Bees Inn Apiaries (Licence # 1040)
· Beesonline Limited (Licence # 1026)
· Biohealth Ltd (Licence #2262)
· Cambridge Bee Products Limited (Licence # 1027) = (dist & sold by ‘GOLDENHILLS MANUKA HONEY. We check to see if Trader Joe’s is a fraud or not)
· Cammell’s Honey Limited (Licence # 1033)
· Carina Brands International (NZ) (Licence # 1099)
· Comvita New Zealand Limited (Licence # 1019)
· Deep Blue Health (Licence # 2058)
· Furuuchi Kamejiro Shoten Co Ltd (Licence #2256)
· GO Healthy New Zealand Ltd (Licence # 2020)
· Golden Flow Apiaries Limited (Licence # 1038)
· Good Health Products (Licence # 2208)
· Haines Apiaries 2007 Limited (Licence # 1015)
· Happy Valley Honey Ltd (Licence # 2024)
· Honey and Herbs NZ Ltd (Licence # 2210)
· Honey Droplet (Licence # 2029)
· Honey Farm Pte Ltd (Licence # 2099)
· Honey Forrest NZ Ltd (Licence # 1088)
· Honey New Zealand (International) Ltd (Licence # 1043)
· Icing International Ltd (Licence # 2041)
· Iuvenum & Forma Ltd (Licence # 2017)
· Ka Noa Honey (Licence #2260)
· Kare Ltd (Licence # 2202)
· Katikati Honey & Bee Centre Limited (Licence # 1025)
· Kiva Health Food (Licence # 2240)
· KiwiCorp Products Ltd (Licence # 2199)
· Kiwigold Ltd (Licence # 1035)
· Koha Natural Foods Ltd (Licence # 2206)
· Lake View Honey Ltd (Licence # 2218)
· Ling Hai Group Ltd (Licence # 2226)
· LS Health Ltd (Licence # 2034)
· M5 Holdings trading as Whakaari International (Licence # 1042)
· Manuka Bioactives Ltd (Licence # 2031)
· Manuka Honey USA (License #2238)
· Manukora (Licence #2228)
· Melita Ltd (Licence # 2050)
· Melora Limited (Licence # 2015)
· Midlands Apiaries Ltd (Licence # 2888) = (dist & sold by Kiva Health Food)
· Mitosis (Licence # 2242)
· Milk New Zealand Dairy (Licence #2270)
· Mitosis Trading LLP (Licence # 2242)
· Mizland (Licence # 2039)
· Mossops Honey New Zealand (Licence # 1021)
· Natural Farm Group (Licence #2234)
· Natural Solutions Limited (Licence # 1024)
· Natural Sweetness (Licence #2250) – Honey paradise
· Nature’s Secret Ltd (Licence # 2216)
· New Zealand Health foods Ltd (Licence # 1053)
· New Zealand Honey Ltd (Licence # 1051)
· New Zealand Honey Specialties Ltd (Licence # 2060)
· New Zealand Manuka Ltd (Licence # 1060)
· New Zealand Natural Care Products Ltd (Licence # 2027)
· North Valley Natural Health NZ Ltd (Licence # 2043)
· Numerou New Zealand Company Ltd (Licence # 1096)
· NZ Bees Ltd (Licence # 2212)
· NZ Focus NZ Ltd (Licence # 1094)
· NZ Gold Health Ltd (Licence #2255)
· NZ Health Naturally Ltd (Licence # 1045)
· NZ Manuka Direct Ltd (Licence # 1060)
· Obeca Group Ltd (Licence #2258)
· Oceania Food Company Ltd (Licence # 1091)
· Oravida NZ Ltd (Licence # 2052)
· PA & SC Steens Ltd (Licence # 2204)
· Prolife Foods Ltd (Mother Earth) (Licence # 1027)
· Pure Manuka Honey (Three Peaks) (Licence # 2112 )
· Pure New Zealand International Ltd (Licence # 1069)
· RBK Nutraceuticals (Licence #2272)
· Red Seal Natural Health Ltd (Licence # 1055)
· S&N International Pte Ltd (Licence # 2088)
· Savage Horticulture Ltd (Licence # 1075) = (dist & Wild Cape Honey)
· Streamland Biological Technology Ltd (Licence # 2010)
· SummerGlow Apiaries Limited (Licence # 1001)
· Superbee Honey Factory (Licence # 2220)
· Swift Health Food (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Licence # 1188)
· Tahi Estate Ltd (Licence # 2035) → Tahi Manuka Honey
· Tai Tokerau Honey Ltd (Licence # 2110)
· Taku Honey (Licence # 1098)
· Taylor Pass Honey Co. (Licence # 2107)
· The Honey Collection Limited (Licence # 1032)
· Unibale NZ Ltd (Licence # 2150)
· Vitaco Health NZ Ltd (Licence # 1072)
· Vitamore Ltd (Licence # 2056)
· Waitemata Honey Co Limited (Licence # 1014)
· Wilderness Valley Ltd (Licence # 2232)
· Yaemea Ltd (Licence #2253)
· Yobees Honey Ltd (Licence # 2230)
· Zero Co., Ltd. (Licence # 2235) – KiwiSun Manula Hhoney

Case study:

Haddrells of Cambridge, http://haddrells.co.nz/, a private company, wholly owned by Richard and Moira Haddrell. Based in Cambridge, New Zealand, produce and export honey, bee pollen and propolis. It is UMFHA licensed no. 1027

Their distributors:
– Lifeplan Products Limited in the UK  → ‘GOLDENHILLS MANUKA HONEY’ (http://www.haddrells.co.nz/product-goldenhills.html)
– Jna-net Japan in Japan
– Back to nature in Hong Kong → ‘Manuka honey’ (http://www.manukahoney.hk/)
– Thoroughbred Remedies Ireland Ltd in Ireland → ‘Manuka honey'(https://www.triequestrian.ie/)
– Natures Farm in Singapore/ Malaysia → ‘Haddrell’s of Cambridge Manuka Honey’ (http://www.naturesfarm.com/)
– Costco Wholesale Korea Ltd in Korea

Frauds?
Here comes the case of Trader Joe’s. The jar has no clear pictures, no producer mentioned, no batch numer, only a license number, which is 1027, belonging to Haddrells of Cambridge.
The name of the distributor cannot be found among the other distributors listed on the producer’s page, and neither is the number of this product.
Now, would you buy this manuka honey?

On Amazon we can find jars of manuka honey made by Haddrells, sold from all these distributors. BUT, the jars don’t have clear pictures from all sides, their labels don’t specify where was the honey bottled, which is the batch number and the UMF license number.
In this point we can immediately assume that the sellers have made similar jars, similar labels and filled them with something else. Since we lack all these info, I do not recommend buying this honey, though the producers may be fair and correct people.

Frauds

• In October 2011 FERA tested 5 brands of manuka honey sold in the UK. Only one showed the non-peroxide activity, specific to only manuka honey. From other 23 other manuka honeys, 11 also failed the non-peroxide tests. What does this mean? They were not manuka honey.

• In 2012 UMFHA tested 73 samples from Britain, China and Singapore. 41 of them had no non-peroxide activity. Other tests made in Hong Kong found that of 55 manuka honey samples 14 had been adulterated with syrup.

• On 25 August 2013 the Sunday Times reported examples of 3 products sold in the UK, which had a number on the jar, but no measure of the special non-peroxide or UMF activity was given. Preliminary scientific tests showed ‘undetectable’ levels.
From the brands tested:
x Pure Gold (different grades) → no NPA detected (was is it manuka honey?)
x Manuka Doctor (different grades)→ no NPA (non-peroxide activity) detected
√ Comvita 10+ → NPA 19
√ Rowse 10+ → NPA 11

In 2013 statistics showed that:
– the typical annual New Zealand harvest is of 1,700 tons of manuka honey
– the annual consumption in the UK is of 1,800 tons of manuka honey
– the global consumption is estimated at 10,000 tons of manuka honey! How about that!

How can we check manuka honey ?

Analytica Laboratories can help us with that. Read more of what tests can be done to see the authenticity and therapeutic value of manuka honey here: How is manuka honey tested? Can we trust those tests?
Besides this, we have also good news on a device meant to identify fake manuka honey. See the video below:

Detector to identify fake Manuka honey launched

Until then, trust the list of licensed producers from UMFHA. It’s easier and safer.

manuka honey grades deciphered

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http://www.newzealandhoneyshop.co.uk/blog/manuka-honey-sunday-times.html

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/73006740/Detector-to-identify-fake-Manuka-honey-launched

wedderspoon.com/manuka-honey-science/kfactor

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/73006740/Detector-to-identify-fake-Manuka-honey-launched

 

Deciphering manuka honey: UMF15+, MGO400, 24+ Bio Active, KFactor16, TA. And LOTS OF FRAUDS. was last modified: October 24th, 2016 by Laura

17 Responses

  1. Joan says

    Still a little confused on which one to buy. Want it for cuts, burns, medical. What brand and which active number to buy., 20+ or higher. Ty

    • Laura says

      It depends on the gravity of the wound. Start from UMF15+. For a highly infected wound you need a higher UMF.
      Another alternative, easier to use, is Activon. It’s in a tube, so its easier to apply. Or in special dressings. It’s even cheaper than manuka honey. Or, Revamil. As a rule, any type of medical grade honey works perfectly.
      Laura

  2. Gayle says

    Hello,
    I would like to know what brand/strength honey to use for Pylori or food poisoning, my husband has had sudden digestive issues , doctors kind of wrote it off as unknown, and want to put him on meds, id rather try this and see if it helps. thanks for any help

    • Laura says

      Hi Gayle,

      Any producer that is UMF licensed is good. There are some more popular, like Comvita, but I think they are all ok.
      Yes, it is recommended to try natural products before chemical drugs, yet it is good to be objective all the way. Please read this article: Is Manuka Honey safe to eat?and see about the differences of lab results compared to those from clinical trials.
      On the other hand, there can be people who have the bacteria, without having the disease. So, if your lifestyle improves, it doesn’t matter if the tests say you are still having the bacteria.
      And manuka honey can do the job! Peter Molan, who was like the father of manuka honey was treating himself with manuka honey for his ulcer.

      Laura

  3. TULLIA says

    Hello everyone.
    Please read about us and our manuka honey from Australia.
    Our product is certified by Intertek Germany: every batch is controlled.
    Only this way you can be sure you are eating a real concentration of MGO.

  4. Charles Hall says

    Is it possible that any of the ingestable for human type
    MANUKA Honey could help with any of these two medical issues. 1. COLITIS. Or. 2.A Rare bladder disease called Interstistial Cysitis there is no cure for this and is very painful.
    Thank you for any help or guidance in advance you can give us.
    Blessings
    Mr. Charles Calvin Hall

    • Laura says

      Hello,
      From what I’ve read manuka honey is recommended for the digestive system. I know colitis was mentioned, but I haven’t read anything about your other condition. Anyways, if there isn’t a synthetic medicine recommended, you can surely try natural products. At least they don’t have such bad side-effects. So, I think you can try manuka honey, first with small quantities and see what happens.
      Also, there are other natural products, like the black seeds – with the reputation of curing everything…. Nigella Sativa, the black seeds, can cure every disease. Come on…
      Worth reading. 🙂
      Laura

      PS. I hope I’m not crossing the common sense line here, but I would also like to advice you to meditate a little on your capacity of letting things out, of letting them go away, good or bad, as part of a normal cycle of life. What goes in, must go out. Let everything go out from your soul, and your body will follow the pattern and eliminate the waste materials, painlessly. Meditate on the fluidity of water going from springs to rivers, oceans and then steams…
      Our soul and body are connected. But life has a way of altering our perfect soul, and this is later on seen on our body. If we are conscious of this, we can reverse it. With some help from our planet, of course. 🙂
      Laura

  5. Manuela says

    Hi Laura
    I would like to buy manuka honey for two reasons:

    1) to feed my pet 1/4 tsp before his first meal simply as a health support and beacuse of all its amazing antibacterial properties.

    2) to use it on my skin to treat acne

    What is a reliable brand of manuka honey? I didnt understand from your article if manuka health is one of them. Also, what would be the ideal safe UMF or MGO to give to a dog? Is MGO 550 too high? Thanks!!!

    • Laura says

      Hi Manuela,

      Manuka Health is one of the most trustful brands. A table grade is between 100 and 400 MGO. I would use this type for ingestion, human or animal.
      For skin therapy 400 – 850 MGO (20 – 35 UMF) is recommended.
      You can also try kanuka honey for acne, the producers have special tested products made from this type of honey, a cousin of manuka. People say it does wonders on any type of complexion.
      Laura

      PS.
      There are special products for pets, with manuka honey and a bit of bee venom, especially recommended for joint problems. If you are interested, see details of Joint Relief for Pets – Bee Venom Honey for Animals 250g” target=”_blank”>manuka honey with bee venom for pets. It can be found as liquid honey or as tables.
      Be sure your pet is not allergic to bee venom first.

  6. alex says

    Hi great article i’m so confused with all this numbers ..mgo..umf …
    anyway a friend of mine brought me a manuka honey by heathly care australia
    20+mgo umf 5+ i dont know if it’s a fake one or not but before i consuming it , i would like to know the daily quantity to eat for a adult ?
    thanks a lot for your time

  7. Evan says

    Hi Laura!

    Im a cancer patient looking for alternative treatments..Ive been taking black seed oil and read that it should be taken with Manuka honey for best results. I want to order some but don’t quite know which brand to go with in my case. Can you recommend one for me??

    Thank you for your time and awesome articles!!! 🙂

    • Laura says

      Hi Evan,
      Black seeds are a very good choice. While I was researching them I haven’t found this, that they work better with manuka honey. They work with any type of honey, or alone. If you don’t take black seeds as capsules (recommended) and want to mix your oil with honey, any raw honey is just as good.
      Manuka honey is a very good honey, but as antimicrobial, not necessary as anticancerogenic and antimutagenic. And its high quantity of MGO may even not recommend it at all. See here why. I would consider more honeys with higher antioxidant properties, like dark honeys (tualang, heather) or some researched honeys like Gelam and Nenas monofloral honeys, which “inhibit proliferation of HT 29 colon cancer cells by inducing DNA damage and apoptosis.” (to quote the study)

      Honey activates the immune system and honey ingestion may be advantageous with respect to cancer and metastasis prevention. Please read this too: Is honey a natural treatment to cancer?
      So, if I have to recommend one type of honey to be taken is gelam honey. Unfortunatelly it is very hard to find. But I would make this recommendation based on the researched already made, we just don’t know how all the other honeys act, because we don’t have studies yet.

      But as I said, apitherapists recommend dark honeys. Only make sure they are RAW. And as fresh as possible.
      Have you seen this page: Do black seeds really cure HIV? Some case reports may help!
      Also read all the other posts on cancer therapy on this site.

      hugs, Laura

  8. Tamara says

    Great article! Very usefull! I wanted to buy some manuka honey but I like to inform myself first and your article just did that. Thank you for your work! …I had so many questions about the issue..I’ll bookmark this 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Laura says

      Thanks, Tamara. I’m glad I could help.

  9. Loredana says

    Very useful article. Good job.
    Thank you.

    • Laura says

      Thank you, Loredana. I try to make my articles as informative as possible. The way I like to find them myself.
      thank you for reading them.
      Laura

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