The meaning of UMF or Unique Manuka Factor
The subject of independent quality ratings of manuka honey is a rather polarizing subject in the world of naturally sourced products (just check out the comments on our post here on what we see are our top ten brands) and so it should be! With any product where customers are paying a premium for quality, there needs to be a high standard put in place to ensure it’s adhered to and manuka honey is no exception. Not only in terms of it’s unique bacterial qualities infused into the honey via bee’s pollination process involving the native New Zealand Manuka bush but the strict processes in place to produce and export the honey. UMF or Unique Manuka Factor rating has been put in place to ensure this continues.
Protecting the quality, authenticity and trusted origins of manuka honey is also extremely important for the future existence of the product and industry that revolves around it. This has become tougher as the health benefits of this product gain more prominence on the global stage so have the ‘knock off’s’. With the growing number of cheap knock off’s that are either completely lying about it’s origins or making up similar but far less strict measurements/ratings of the honey’s anti-bacterial qualities.
What testing is involved
As part of the Unique Manuka Factor verification process the Honey Association work with a number of select laboratories to perform certain quality tests to ensure products uphold the standards of the UMF trademark. These include testing for HMF (Hydroxy Methyl Furfural) and MG (Methyglyoxal):
- MG tests are they life blood of the UMF rating system and measure the level of honey’s non-peroxide activity. So essentially, does it have all that anti-bacterial goodness it claims:)
- HMF tests are used to identify any manuka honey which may have been heated to quickly increase the content of MG (which is obviously bad).
There are also tests for DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) which is more about seeing what potential manuka honey has of increasing levels of MG during storage but the above tests are the main ones.
What UMF Ratings are there
Depending on the level of antibacterial activity within each jar of honey, will determine the UMF rating it’s associated with. Generally speaking the higher the UMF rating the more expensive the product will be:
- UMF 5 +
- UMF 10+
- UMF 15+
- UMF 18+
- UMF 20+
To break this down in everyday terms – if you are looking for a high quality spread on your morning toast to keep you healthy through winter (or anytime of the year) then you would go for anything from UMF 5+ up to UMF 15+. If you are looking to go to the next level and even use it for wound care etc then you would be looking 18+ and above to ensure it’s got the most active ingredients.
Just remember, what ever unique manuka factor honey you are using, don’t put it in a boiling hot drink as it will remove all the antibacterial goodness you have just paid that little bit extra for.
List of Manuka Honey Brands that are UMF® Registered Licencees
Below is a list of our favourite New Zealand manuka honey brands that are UMF registered licencees and can carry the UMF trademark. You can view a complete list of the 57 Unique Manuka Factor registered licensees here: www.umf.org.nz
|1055||Red Seal Natural Health||www.redseal.co.nz|
Advice on finding a trusted source?
There will always be fake brands, touting their “genuine” New Zealand manuka honey or manuka honey sourced from origins unknown. So to navigate this just make sure you do your research or sample a few products before committing to buying a large amount. If you like, you can even ask us a question in the comments below or send us an email from our contact us page here.