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Manuka honey pioneers welcome ratification of testing method

Media Release
13 September 2011

Manuka honey pioneers welcome ratification of honey testing method

Global leaders in the production of therapeutic grade manuka honey, Manuka Health, have welcomed the announcement that the leading testing laboratories in Singapore, New Zealand government-owned AsureQuality, will now be testing for methylglyoxal as their measurement of activity in manuka honey.

Manuka Health developed what has become the gold standard for the manuka honey industry in 2008, believing that consumers around the world deserved to be able to have total faith in the active potential of the manuka honey products they were buying.

CEO Kerry Paul is pleased to see some further progress toward the standard being adopted worldwide. “We’ve said for a long time that a methylglyoxyal-based scale would be the standard against which all manuka honey would be measured in the future. Many within the industry have tried to promote very outdated and unreliable testing in the past. We’ve got a way to go, but this is great first step.”

Manuka Health has worked with several leading laboratories Hills and AsureQuality to get consistency in methylglyoxal testing. There is a need to have several laboratories capable of providing a repeatable scientific test as the scientific body of evidence supporting methylglyoxyal as the primary factor contributing to the unparalleled antibacterial properties of New Zealand manuka honey continues to mount up.

Since the publication of the original paper by Dr Henle of the University of Dresden in 2008 that identified MGO as manuka honey’s dominant active measurable constituent, 6 research studies have been published in internationally peer reviewed publications.

Waiariki Institute of Technology Researcher and Lecturer Dr Lynne Chepulis has been working on honey research for many years, being a graduate of the honey research unit at the University of Waikato who confirmed the Dresden findings(1). “The identification of methylglyoxyl as the compound responsible for the stable, non-peroxide antibacterial activity of manuka honey has turned conventional thinking on its head,” she says.

“Manuka Health is leading the way in establishing the global standard for identifying genuine New Zealand manuka honey. Consumers now have a guarantee of quality and a transparent way of understanding how effective is the antibacterial content of their manuka honey.”

With years of experience in this type of testing, Manuka Health has established an IANZ-certified facility, which was the first lab in New Zealand to adopt the system that provides a conclusive, accurate methylglyoxal rating of manuka honey. The MGO™ Manuka Honey labelling relates directly to the amount of methylglyoxal per kilo of honey.

For example, MGO™ 550+ Manuka Honey is guaranteed to contain a minimum of 550mg of methylglyoxal per kilo, making it potent enough to inhibit the most powerful strains of bacteria. This type of accurate, clear, and honest labelling becomes increasingly important as therapeutic effects are being sought by consumers, particularly at higher concentrations. Other testing methods are not mathematically linear, and their test results vary so wildly (around 25%) as to be next to useless to a buyer. Methylglyoxyl testing has a margin of error of only 2% giving certainty to consumer markets.

Currently Manuka Health is working in partnership with Technical University of Dresden, and alongside leading facilities such as Hill Laboratories and AsureQuality to establish accredited methylglyoxyl-testing facilities here and overseas. This will enable manuka honey suppliers to accurately measure the antibacterial effectiveness of their products in order to ensure that they are providing genuine health benefits to domestic and export markets.

This continues the work that Manuka Health has done through its strategic partnerships with leading academic institutes around the world. The company continues to invest heavily in research programmes to investigate the clinical and medical applications of genuine New Zealand manuka honey.

Kerry Paul is pleased that the tide is turning towards an industry standard based in science and focusing on the needs of the consumer. “It’s about time really. This technology has been around for a long time. We know... we’ve been using it! And when technology moves on again you can guarantee we’ll be the first to put up our hand to do what’s best for the industry.”


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