Following recent concern over the labelling of Manuka honey imports to the UK from some manufacturers, we wanted to let you know that leading Manuka honey producer, Manuka Health, who have led calls to standardise Manuka honey labelling for many years has welcomed the New Zealand government’s move to introduce guidelines to ensure all manuka honey exports are “true to label”.
Manuka honey labelling options were outlined in a discussion paper, “Options for Defining Monofloral Manuka Honey”, released recently by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.
Chief Executive Officer Kerry Paul says the ministry’s proposals are a positive first step towards a national standard, designed to shore up the international reputation of New Zealand’s honey exports, now worth an estimated $NZ120 million a year.
“Hopefully, this will stop honey mis-labelling, reduce confusion in the international marketplace and return confidence to consumers” he said.
The proposed guidelines, expected to be announced at the end of next month (November), are the outcome of discussions with representatives of New Zealand’s honey industry.
Three options for defining New Zealand manuka honey, based on pollen count, methylglyoxal content, or a combination of both are being considered.
Naturally occurring methylglyoxal was identified in 2006 by Professor Thomas Henle, the head of the Institute of Food Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden, as the dominant, measurable ingredient responsible for manuka honey’s unique, non-peroxide, antibacterial activity.
Mr Paul says following this discovery, Manuka Health led the way globally in developing a robust scientific method to quantify the actual amount of methylglyoxal in its manuka honey products, information which it has included on labels since 2008.
Professor Henle and New Zealand’s manuka honey expert Professor Peter Molan, of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, agree testing for methylglyoxal is the reliable and scientifically sound measurement for determining the anti-bacterial activity of manuka honey.
“Consumers need to know the methylglyoxal (MGOTM) content so they can be certain they’re buying manuka honey with the special properties for which it has become world famous,” says Mr Paul. “This information should be displayed clearly on the product label.”
Mr Paul says Manuka Health takes a rigorous approach to producing its Manuka honey products with traceability from the beehive to the shelf.
“The company’s manufacturing and distribution centre, located in the country’s North Island, is ISO 9001 and NZ Food Safety Authority Risk Management Programme accredited, and has organic certification and the company’s laboratory for testing bioactives and quality parameters operates under ISO 17025 certification.”
Manuka Health Manuka Honey clearly indicates on all its products the MGOTM (methylglyoxal) content contained within each pot. Eg. MGOTM 100+ indicates there is at least 100mg of methylglyoxal in a kg of honey.
Whereas UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) is an approximation of the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey which is not clearly understood by the consumer, MGO is an accurate, simple measure that the consumer can clearly understand and trust.