Australia’s Manuka honey producers have adopted an official seal of authenticity.
The new seal will be available exclusively to members of the Australian Manuka Honey Association, and will give consumers assurance that the Manuka honey they are buying is genuine.
Leading Australian Manuka honey producers, including ASX listed Capilano, will now be able to add the seal to their Manuka products.
According to Paul Callander, AMHA chairman, the seal is only available for members whose Manuka honey has been tested by an independent laboratory and meets the Association’s official scientific standard.
Scientists at three Australian universities have collaborated to develop the standard.
Dr Peter Brooks, an internationally-renowned honey chemist at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said the standard specifies three different components of Manuka honey – methylglyoxal (MGO), dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and leptosperin.
“These compounds are all naturally occurring in authentic Manuka. The level of MGO determines the potency of the honey, while the amount of DHA shows that this potency came naturally from the bees collecting Manuka nectar, and the leptosperin is further proof of authentic Manuka” said Brooks.
Noteworthy in the scientific standard is the absence of any mention of the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) test originally developed in New Zealand.
Across the Tasman UMF is still used by most Manuka honey producers (such as Comvita) to show the potency of their products.
And the UMF Honey Association is the main backer of New Zealand’s efforts to monopolize manuka honey internationally through a special type of trademark.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, UMF officials have attacked the new AMHA standard.
CEO John Rawcliffe told Radio NZ said that the new AMHA standard is ”very, very weak” and that “virtually any honey in Australia could be called multi-floral manuka”.
However AMHA chairman, Paul Callander said that large international retailers are increasingly moving away from the UMF system, and moving towards adopting MGO ratings for their labelling.
“They are making direct comparison between different products much easier for their customers” he said.
For more information go to www.manukaaustralia.org.au