Local manuka honey buyers will get extra assurance with the release of two new quality seals for authentic Australian manuka honey.
The seals are only available to manuka honey producers whose honey meets the standard laid down by the Australian Manuka Honey Association.
Developed by the Association’s scientific sub committee, the standards are very similar to those adopted by the New Zealand government last year in support of its honey marketing efforts.
The main component of the standard is a minimum level of Methylglyoxal, or MGO, which is the natural ingredient of manuka honey mainly responsible for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial potency.
That anti-bacterial potency is directly related to the amount of MGO in the honey.
So many producers label their manuka honey jars with a number indicating how much MGO per kilogram is in the honey (For example, 100+ means 100mgs of MGO per kilo of honey).
The new AMHA authentic manuka honey seal (or quality mark) can only be used on jars of Australian manuka where an independent laboratory test shows it rates at least MGO 85+
To qualify for the seal the honey must also contain at least 175mg per kg of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is an MGO pre-cursor compound typically found in manuka honey.
A second new seal or quality mark – AMHA authorised manuka – requires only that the honey test at levels of at least MGO 30+ and 60gm per kg of DHA.
AMHA says that its new quality marks/ seals are based on an AMHA’s scientific standard for manuka honey.
That standard specifies that, as well as MGO and DHA, the chemical compound – leptosperin – must be found in the honey to prove that it is manuka.
Commercial use of leptosperin as a chemical marker has thus far been licensed exclusively to New Zealand’s UMF Honey Association.
The Association has been the leading player behind the push to trademark manuka as a uniquely New Zealand produced honey.
It has claimed that leptosperin can be used to uniquely prove the New Zealand origins of manuka honey.
However research by Dr Peter Brooks at the University of the Sunshine Coast university has shown that leptosperin is found in all Australian and New Zealand manuka honey.
For more information go to www.amha.org.au