Manuka honey is a superior type of honey due to its potency and medicinal properties. It is used topically to treat wounds and infections and orally for sinusitis and other conditions. And it naturally costs more than other honey.
If you go to buy Manuka honey, you will find a wide range of options. Not only are there different brands, but most brands also offer a variety of options. It can turn out to be very confusing.
So, how do you choose from the various options available?
This is where you should look at the different grading systems for manuka honey. Manuka honey manufacturers use terms like UMF, MGO, K-factor, and other grading systems to indicate the purity and potency of their products. But to understand these terms, we should first understand what makes Manuka honey special.
Why is Manuka honey special?
The presence of hydrogen peroxide makes honey a good antibacterial agent. However, hydrogen peroxide is neutralized by heat. So, the effectiveness of honey will be affected by heat processing.
However, Manuka honey has an additional compound called Methyl Glyoxal or MGO. It is heat resistant. It means that manuka honey continues to have antibacterial effects, even after it is subjected to heat processing. This exclusive property is termed the non-peroxide activity.
Apart from MGO, Manuka honey also has multiple enzymes, antioxidants, and other active ingredients with health benefits. The resulting combination makes it an organic superfood that heals infections and injuries.
Now, the potency of a batch of Manuka Honey will depend on the MGO, peroxide activity, and the effects of other active ingredients. Different grading systems have been developed to measure these factors.
Manuka Honey Grading Systems Explained!
The most popular and widely acknowledged grading systems for Manuka honey are UMF, MGO, and K-factor. Let us find out what they indicate and how to use them to assess the quality of a batch of Manuka honey.
What is UMF?
The UMF is a certification offered by the UMF Honey Association of New Zealand. It is recognized as the international quality trademark for Manuka honey.
UMF is difficult to obtain due to its strict certification guidelines. So, it is widely regarded as a reliable measure of the quality of honey.
The term UMF stands for Unique Manuka Factor. This grading system measures the amount of MGO, DHA, and Lepstosperin in a batch of honey to ascertain its quality. It offers a more comprehensive evaluation of not only MGO activity but also other active ingredients that affect the quality of Manuka honey. So, the higher the UMF number, the more benefits the honey has.
Manuka Honey with a UMF of 10+ is active manuka honey with therapeutic properties. Manuka honey with UMF levels of 15 and above offers excellent health benefits. So, if you are buying it for health purposes like treating skin breakouts, cholesterol, or sinusitis, look for a UMF of 15+ to 25+.
What is MGO?
The UMF is a reliable rating as it takes the peroxide and Methyl Glyoxal activity into account. It gives a better idea of the overall effectiveness of the honey.
Some brands, however, specify the MGO rating. MGO is the measure of the methylglyoxal content of honey. Good quality Manuka honey has an MGO rating above 100.
MGO testing is performed in-house by the company manufacturing the honey. It is not offered by an independent agency, like UMF.
Since most companies specify MGO and UMF simultaneously, you can correlate both these readings to get a better picture of the actual quality.
What is K-factor?
Wedderspoon is a key Manuka honey producer. They devised the K-factor scale to measure the quality of honey based on the following markers.
- Pollen percentage
- Enzyme levels
- pH level
- DHA content
These attributes are related to the purity of honey. However, the K-factor does not account for the non-peroxide activity or the MGO levels. So, this scale does not exactly assess the therapeutic effectiveness of honey.
However, if you are just concerned about the purity of honey the K-factor scale will be helpful. It has three different levels as follows:
K-factor 12 has 60% of Manuka pollen in the honey
K-factor 16 has 75% of Manuka pollen
K-factor 22 has 90% of Manuka pollen
Other Grading Systems and Their Reliability
UMF and MGO ratings are the most reliable representations of the quality of honey. Nonetheless, there are plenty of brands without either of these ratings. They may use terms like Active (A), Total activity (TA), or Bio-Active on the label.
These terms can be misleading as they do not follow any specific regulations. So, there is no guarantee of quality. You cannot ascertain if the product contains a significant amount of Manuka honey.
To get the actual benefits of Manuka honey, always opt for a brand with a UMF or MGO certification.
UMF Manuka honey and Active Manuka honey…. What is the actual difference?
To put it simply, there are no regulations to define the term “active.” So, any Manuka honey that displays antibacterial activity may be labeled as “active” manuka honey.
Meanwhile, a company cannot simply put the term “UMF” on its label. It must undergo rigorous testing and meet the quality criteria. It will be labeled based on its actual effectiveness. So, the UMF label is an internationally accepted and trustworthy certification for Manuka honey.
Manuka honey has unparalleled health benefits. However, to enjoy these qualities, you must invest in pure Manuka honey. Grading scales like the UMF and MGO are a good indicator of the purity level of a batch of Manuka honey.
While the UMF scale is the most reliable one, MGO is also authentic. Meanwhile, terms like “active” or “total activity” on a Manuka honey brand is vague and unverifiable. Once you decide to buy Manuka honey for its medicinal benefits, invest in a brand with a UMF or MGO label. However, if you wish to just use it as a sugar substitute or in beauty treatments, you can go for any of them.