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Manuka Honey MGO and UMF

New Zealand Manuka Honey Buyer’s Guide

To be labelled manuka honey in New Zealand, honey must meet stringent standards and guidelines. True New Zealand manuka honey will be labelled with a UMF rating (e.g. UMF 10+) or a methylglyoxal content, often abbreviated to MG or MGO (e.g. MGO 400).

The latest specification for a UMF rating certifies the honey’s content of a DHA (dihydroxyacetone), MG/MGO (methylglyoxal), and Leptosperin, which are the key chemical markers that identify genuine manuka honey as having the desirable ‘manuka goodness.’

MG/MGO ratings measure only the methylglyoxal content.

There are no other recognised rating systems for genuine New Zealand manuka honey, although there are several ‘made-up’ ratings used by honey marketing companies to disguise lower-grade honey. Avoid honey that does not specify either UMF or methylglyoxal content as it is unlikely to be genuine manuka honey.

New Zealand Government honey labelling requirements explicitly prohibit the use of the terms “Non-Peroxide Activity”, “Total Peroxide Activity”, “Peroxide Activity”, “Total Activity” and “Active” on honey labels. These requirements have been in place since early 2015. Avoid honey that shows any of these terms on its label as it would be illegal for such a honey to be produced or sold in New Zealand.

Manuka Honey MGO and UMF Ratings Compared

 Most genuine high-grade manuka honey from New Zealand includes a UMF rating on the label. Some honey producers instead use an MG or MGO rating. Honeys without a UMF or MG/MGO rating are generally low-grade honey without the beneficial characteristics that have made premium manuka honey so much in demand.

 NPA stands for non-peroxide activity, the property that makes certain grades of UMF and MGO manuka honey special. Those manuka honeys that carry only a ‘total activity’ or ‘peroxide activity’ rating do not have this special NPA property and should be considered low-grade honey.

 UMF ratings are based on specific natural markers characteristic of manuka honey, such as leptosperin and methylglyoxal. UMF ratings correspond to the potency of the desirable NPA properties of honey. Typically honey with NPA between 5 and 9.9 are labelled UMF 5+, honey with NPA ratings between 10.0 and 14.9 are rated UMF 10+, and so on

MGO is methylglyoxal, sometimes referred to as MG.

Use this table to convert between manuka honey UMF, MGO and NPA ratings.

UMF RATING
MINIMUM MGO*
METHYLGLYOXAL
MINIMUM NPA**
NON-PEROXIDE ACTIVITY

UMF 20+

829

20.0

UMF 18+

692

18.0

UMF 15+

550

15.6

UMF 15+

514

15.0

UMF 12+

400

12.9

UMF 12+

354

12.0

UMF 10+

263

10.0

UMF 5+

100

5.6

UMF 5+

83

5.0

-

30

2.7

* MGO is measured as mg/kg (ppm)
** NPA is measured as % solution (%w/v) of phenol/water

 Examples of how to read this table:

UMF 15+ honey has a minimum MGO 514.

MGO 400 honey would be rated UMF 12+ (or UMF 10+).

MGO 550 honey would be rated UMF 15+.

UMF 20+ honey has a minimum MGO 829.

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