Will the real Manuka Honey please stand up !!!

Picture this... You're standing at the manuka honey section at the supermarket and your head is starting to spin.

There's numbers for MGO, UMF, Pollen Count. There's raw, pure, multifloral and blends. Every jar seems to have a different number, and most of them have two. Your instruction was to simply to pick up some manuka honey, the good stuff.

How hard could it be... A bigger number is better, right? And the more expensive ones must be better, right?

airborne manuka 70+

You start googling for the answers on your phone and it gets worse. You find MGO (Methylglyoxal) has been superceded by UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) because the presence of MGO on its own didn't necessarily mean its manuka, and the score could easily be manipulated by heating.

You discover the Government (MPI) bypassed UMF score and set its own standard for what qualifies as manuka. The MPI tests look for DNA and chemical markers which indicate the presence of manuka.
It separates mono from multifloral (a blend) but no more. It still doesn't tell you how much manuka - it could be a little or a lot.🤨
The tests are only required for export honey. This isn't proving very helpful...

Surely there must be an international standard?

Sure is! The gloriously named Codex Alimentarius honey standard was established almost 40 years ago by the UN International Food Standards Committee (FAO) and remains the world authority on all things honey.                                             

According to Codex you can refer to a honey by a floral source 'if it comes wholly or mainly from that source' plus the scientific properties are consistent with that source.

We know the source of the honey, where the bees have been, because the trademark pollen has collected on their legs. From this we know if they've been feasting on the manuka plant, or not, and if so, how much. 

If the honey contains 70% or more manuka pollen then it qualifies as manuka - simple.
Airborne religiously tests every batch to be sure it meets the MPI standard for manuka and to verify the pollen count. They can tell you that their honey is at least 70 percent, or even 85 percent plus manuka pollen. The exact % for the batch is printed on the label.
And if your budget wont stretch as far as the 70% Pure you can always try the manuka wildflower blend - it tastes bloody good too.

There, it wasn't so hard after all.😉


For more information on the MPI standard:

For the International Food Standard on honey: