How to Define “Mānuka Honey”?

 

Mānuka honey is regarded as a premium honey product, produced by bees collecting nectar from the unique mānuka plants growing throughout New Zealand. Compared with ordinary honey, mānuka honey contains special antimicrobial substances (Unique Mānuka Factor, UMF) with strong health maintenance effects. From the UMF values shown on mānuka honey product package (e.g. 5+, 10+, 15+, etc.), one can know the level of the antibacterial property.

Since the price of mānuka honey is a few times higher than that of ordinary honey, food frauds (e.g. falsely label the UMF level and even a product without any antimicrobial property) occur from time to time. It is reported that only 1,700 tonnes of mānuka honey are produced annually, but there are up to 10,000 tonnes of New Zealand honey sold in the name of “Mānuka” globally. 

To protect the reputation of “national treasures”, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) of New Zealand started a robust science programme to develop a “scientific definition” of Mānuka honey since 2014. After over three years of research, New Zealand government has recently announced that a combination of 5 attributes (contents of 4 chemicals and 1 DNA marker) are required to authenticate mānuka honey from New Zealand.

I. “Monofloral” Mānuka Honey

To meet the definition of monofloral manuka honey, the honey must meet all 5 attributes below:

II. “Multifloral” Mānuka Honey

On the other hand, the test for multifloral manuka honey requires all 5 attributes below:

If the honey fails to meet 1 or more of the attributes, it is not mānuka honey.

 

Food Safety Specialist

 

YY Tsang

 

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