This whole "Manuka Craze", that even I have found myself caught up in, had led me to do another journey into what I call "The Project" Series in my blog, where I dive into finding the quality version of products I love…..and exposing the bogus ones
Real Manuka production is down in New Zeland, perhaps as much as 80%, but more and more [supposed] Manuka is popping up on the shelves in America….something ain't adding up.
Those "hustlers" know consumers have a tendency to eyeball a "latest craze" word on a product label, grab the product, throw it in the shopping cart, and do very little research on what it really in the jar or bottle…….no worries, I love putting in the work to see who's real and who's fake.
I love putting together a stylish and visually appealing Health Blog for the "Social Media Masses", but this kind of research……..well, this is what I really do!!!!
Manuka, the quick, scientific bla-bla-bla ….
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush. The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities.
In Manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound — dihydroxyacetone — that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers. It seems, MG and/or "something else" gives this honey its "miracle" properties, however, the specifics of what makes this miracle honey is still hotly debated, and is to a certain degree, unknown, or at least not fully understood.
Take the Manuka Quiz…..
If you wanted to buy Manuka, then which of the brands pictured below are UMF, Unique Manuka Factor Association of New Zealand licensed products (more on UMF in a minute) ????
The Answer?…NONE OF THEM are UMF Association licensed products……
Does that mean they are bogus products? "Bogus" is perhaps perspective. My guess is they are real raw manuka honey, but not "top of the line manuka", like they want us to think (although they charge "top of the line" prices). What it is really saying is that since none of the above products are UMF Association licensed products, (The UMF Association tests and guarantee their MG levels), so, if not UMF licensed, you are taking their word for their rating on the level of key ingredients in their honey.
What determines if a given brand of Manuka "Top of the Line"?
…..a VERIFIABLE LARGE AMOUNT of the key chemical markers DHA, MGO, Leptosperin, and [I think] antibacterial methylglyoxal "MG", and others. All Manuka doesn't have these high level of chemical components (it may be Manuka, but not the desired, potent, most healthy, Highest Grade Manuka), so don't jump the gun and grab anything that says MANUKA.
The high level of "key chemicals" is what we are seeking for all this cash we are paying. Ratings of 10+ and above (10+, 15+, 20+, etc.) are highest grades of Manuka in New Zealand.
An example of "jumping the gun" is the Wedderspoon product pictured above in the middle, it seems to get good reviews on Amazon (and "seems" to be viewed by American consumers as the best Manuka available in the USA), but you will still see reviewers who make comments such as….
"The results of an analysis performed by NZLabs on two different Wedderspoon products were disclosed yesterday. The analysis included a jar labeled as Active 16+ and another jar labeled as Active 12+, both of which were found to have non-peroxide and total peroxide activity of less than 8.2 which is as low as the test goes. This suggests that the potency of the Wedderspoon Manuka Honey had to be either extremely low or nonexistent. It certainly confirms that the honeys were not of the potency that they were labeled as having.
"This is not only unethical and dishonest, it's an absolute disgrace," says Frank Buonanotte, CEO of Honeymark International which is a U.S. importer of Manuka honey. "This type of inactive Manuka honey will not yield the same medicinal results that people have come to expect." .
"Wedderspoon has been able to get away with this deceptive and fraudulent practice because the FDA doesn't recognize honey of any kind as being an antibacterial agent. Therefore, they do not have a role in regulating the potency level of Manuka honey. Nevertheless, consumers have come to recognize the numbers indicated on the label as the potency level. Wedderspoon has twisted the general public's understanding of Manuka honey's antibacterial activity by misleading their customers into thinking that they were getting more than what they paid for"
My Note: …on Wedderspoon, is that it is "perceived" to be the top of the line, best readily available Manuka in the USA, for those who have not researched the subject and are just grabbing something off the shelf …..just an observation and opinion
Synergy Healing Honey, the one on the right above, was the one I was always using (or more aptly put, wasting my money on), in the end, the whole color, look, and texture of Synergy honey changed, and someone wrote Synergy was not real and true Manuka, and this is how I dived into all this (which is something I do when a company pisses me off…they picked the wrong dude to rip-off)
Airborne, (above left), was tested and found lacking too: read this review for more info
…if you don't see a yellow and black logo like the above left on your Manuka, then it is not one of the 50+ UMF licensed companies (there may be variations, like the above right Mossups, my current brand that has a 5+ or 10+ inside of the yellow octagons above and no words underneath the logo).
ALTHOUGH, some legit UMF Manuka is distributed by USA resellers, and you might not see the logo, but you at least should see the UMF License number from the original UMF Company that supplies the UMF Manuka or something on the label to trace it back to the original UMF manufacturer. For example the Medi-Bee Manuka on the AMAZON list below has a Red Cross UMF Logo, but has the address of Comvita, a licensed reseller.
What is UMF?
In New Zealand, Honey producers have developed a scale for rating the potency of manuka honey. The rating is called UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor.
The UMF rating corresponds with the concentration key chemical components in Manuka . To be considered a Manuka tested and confirmed with various chemical component levels, the manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10+ UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as "UMF Manuka Honey"
There are only around 60 companies licensed via the UMF association, although it seems that anyone can place a number on their Manuka Honey jar and/or call it active (As I understand it UMF doesn't even like the name "Active" anymore because they don't want words that imply Therapeutic claims on food labels)
certified UMF licensed Manuka on AMAZON (or in USA)
(the legitimate UMF Assoc. Licensed Manuka on Amazon should say "UMF" somewhere in the Amazon description, not just "ACTIVE" or "MANUKA" or "MGO". If a link below is out of stock, do a search on AMAZON on the name you're interested in because, as an example, any UMF 15+ that I link to below may be out of stock, but the same company's UMF 10+ strength may be in stock.
…. Also, remember many companies sell BOTH lesser grade non-UMF Manuka, and UMF certified Manuka so make sure the label says "UMF".
Pacific Resources Manuka
This is the same company the imports the Mossups Manuka that I purchase, The source supplier of this company is Arataki Honey Limited (Hawkes Bay), UMF license 1004, so this honey is legit, even though the UMF logo might not be on the jar since Pacific Resources is a USA storefront reseller, and not one of the New Zealand UMF companies (though you will see Arataki, UMF license 1004 on the jar)
"Steens" UMF Manuka
UMF License #2204. A new one I happened to run across on the first day in 2017. Seems to be an interesting company. I'm actually gonna try this one next (though all the UMF Manukas seems the same to me, It's more about best price at a certain strength between UMF brands). They also have an MGO rating on the jar, but the also the UMF Yellow Octagon, so with that and the UMF License # on the jar, I know they are legit. They have tracking bar codes on their jar so you can track back to exactly where the bees were raised and the honey was created for your particular jar of Manuka. Not sure if all that is necessary, but I think it adds to a company's legitimacy when they are that transparent.
Off and on on Amazon. I used to call it one of my fav's, but like I've been saying recently, I can get any UMF Manuka on this list and feel I'm getting the same thing at the same a particular strength [10+, 15+, 20+] . They all look and taste the same. But I really like this honey, I make that expensive jar last as long as possible, and use a cheaper Whole Foods Local Wild Honey for other purposes like when I have honey heated up in tea or a cooked food recipe, since I assume, but don't know, some nutrients may be destroyed by the heat
Distributed by the reseller Hawaiian Health Brands, from the original Manuka Producer Midlands Apiaries LTD, UMF License #2888. This is the current brand I'm also trying because this is the first UMF 20+ I found on Amazon. However the $70 price tag is for the small 8.8oz jar, where many 16oz jars of other 10+ UMF Manuka may be a lesser price. I just want to see if the 20+ Manuka is more potent for skincare and such. The Kiva UMF 20+ is in and out of stock on Amazon, the 20+ has been my most recent purchase
UMF license #2035, a "new kid" on the block [I think] because I hadn't run across them before. This one I have been buying the most in 2016 because it seems to be teh best price for the UMF 15+ compared to the others. Make sure you check out their Facebook Page and their Website for more Manuka info on this eco-friendly and socially conscious company (make sure you read their comment below in this article's comments section, good 20 second Manuka education). They have 5+, 10+ and 15+ on Amazon, so if the link I gave for 15+ is out of stock, make sure you search for the others.
Comvita New Zealand Limited
(one of the more reliable companies in UMF Manuka available in the USA)
Bee's Inn Manuka
(UMF License #1040, Bees Inn Apiaries, a new one I found on Amazon in 2016)
(UMF License #2888, another I ran across on Amazon in 2016 , they are one of the few who I've seem with the most potent strength honey, the UMF 20+, though remember the $60 to $80 for the 20+ will be in the smaller 8.8 oz. jar as opposed to the larger 16oz. jar. I purchase 20+ when I can, and just make it last, for me it's worth the extra money)
Happy Valley UMF Manuka Honey
(You will see a yellow UMF Octagon on the label and UMF License #2024 for Happy Valley Honey (NZ), to confirm this is a a Legitimate UMF Manuka)
(this is another USA Reseller, so no UMF logo on the Jar, but it should say UMF license 1040, Bee Inn Apiaries)
Golden Hills Manuka
(this one is supplied by the same UMF license 1027, Cambridge Bee Products , I haven't seen the jar labeling, but expect no UMF logo, but look for UMF license 1027, I this brand is mostly marketed in England, but it is now on Amazon, at the least, off and on)
Haddrells of Cambridge
(This is the original UMF [licensed #1027] supplier of Golden Hills Manuka on this list)
Natural Solutions Limited, East Cape Manuka
The one I first tried (Thumbs Up), but often out of stock on Amazon (although one activity level, like East Cape UMF 20+ may be out of stock while UMF 15+ may be in stock, so do a thorough search on Amazon of all East Cape Manuka)
Honey New Zealand Manuka
(UMF license #1043, Honey New Zealand International LTD)
Wild Cape UMF Homey
(UMF license #1075, Savage Horticulture, imported and resold in the USA under the "Wild Cape" name by a New Hampshire Based company called World Wide Access USA)
(The labeling on this jar is a little different and confusing but I am 100% sure this is UMF Manuka. There is no UMF Logo or license # on the jar from what I can see, but there is a UMF logo that is a red cross. But if you see the letters "UMF" on any Manuka label, it for sure MUST be a UMF certified Honey. Upon further research, I found the original supplier to be Comvita listed above. There the address on the jar is the address for Comvita, so for me, that is enough verification)
Prince Gold Manuka
(I'm sure this is legitimate UMF Manuka from a San Francisco based reseller named Prince of Peace, but I can't find out who is the original supplier. I would have to find that info on the web, or see the actual jar)
(Worth posting because I know first hand UMF manuka does work on minor burns, cuts, mosquito bites and so forth. Might be good for a medicine cabinet, camping, first aid kit, or whatever, though you could simply use a little of edible manuka for these treatments. The Pacific Resources Manuka mentioned above creates this product, and since it says UMF on the label, I'm 100% sure it is real Manuka, not sure what else is in the tube )
"reNu" Manuka Honey Cream Healing Moisturizer Skin Care UMF 16+
(Just wanted to post this one to show there are a variety of products popping up with UMF manuka, however, you can do your own DIY products with regular manuka. One note is this product contains Aloe Vera, which many women love, but a small percentage of people find Aloe Vera irritating to the skin. If anyone buys and tries it, let everyone else know what you thought of it)
… I'll try to keep this list updated best I can, but this should be enough to find something, since half of these can be out of stock at any point in time on Amazon
Below is just a cool honey photo (I like adding photos), you will find real Manuka to be a deeper colored dark brown, and not so transparent, and fairly thick, like melted dark caramel, or maple syrup, just F.Y.I.
The Science of Ratings, still being debated…
MGO ratings are now on some Manuka, and they refer to the level of Methyglyoxal in the honey. "Methyglyoxal is a marker of Manuka honey but it argued about its true correlation with non-peroxide activity, an thus there seems to be confusion on what actually to test to even rate Manuka, and how to regulate the testing, bla bla bla……………..
A good read on the "Manuka Rating wars, UMF vs. MGO". (I don't agree with their assessment of MGO being better than UMF, I think they are trying to bring down the King of the Hill, UMF. This is what makes it all so confusing, and to be honest, I'm kinda burned out researching all this. Sometimes, you have to stop and make an informed choice, and I'm confident with my choice, which is UMF)
….the reason I disagree with the article above (though I linked to it because I believe in presenting all points of view when possible), is they say UMF measurements vary too much from batch to batch and test to test. To me, that is like saying one basket of apples is "sweet" and another basket of the same type of apples is "not so sweet". Both baskets of apples are still the same thing, and are just as healthy. In nature, you can only standardize and so much, because in nature, there are always natural variations of color, chemical composition, etc., of the same thing.
UMF has its critics…..
….like if you look on the Synergy Healing Honey website, it says UMF is just a "marketing tool". I told someone I researched UMF as thoroughly as humanly possible for any consumer, and I just don't believe that. With all this confusion, sometimes you just have to go with your gut, and use simple logic.
I told the person if UMF were a bogus ratings system, then Synergy Healing Honey's independent testers would have long ago grabbed any UMF honey off the shelf, tested it, and found its claims of potency levels false, and proclaimed that info to the rest of the world. From what I can see, that has never happened, and it seems that UMF Certified Comvita often tests out with a higher level than what is on the jar, like if the jar says UMF 5+, Comvita will test out at 7+.
I would never say the Manuka with independent testers outside of the UMF network (like Trader Joes, who started out UMF certified but now have independent testers, not sure about them) are legit or bogus, I think they can be legit, but it so hard to tell, I think UMF Manuka is the best choice for me.
UMF Manuka Key Points……….
** Scientific research at New Zealand's University of Waikato discovered that some strains of New Zealand manuka honey contains an extraordinary,naturally present, very stable and more powerful unique antibacterial activity not found in any other variety of honey.
** This unique antibacterial activity is a non-peroxide activity and comes from the nectar of the manuka flower – it is quite distinct from the enzyme/peroxide activity that is common to most honeys.
** IMPORTANT!!! Not all manuka honey has the unique activity and among those that do the strength varies.
** To determine if the special antibacterial activity is present in manuka honey each batch must be tested (after packing) in specifically approved laboratories using stringent criteria laid down by the UMF Honey Association.
** To test for the unique activity the UMF Honey Association utilizes a range of internationally recognized biological and chemical methods in approved laboratories both in New Zealand and internationally.
** As part of the testing process every batch of honey must also go through a series of additional checks and supporting programs to ensure the ultimate in authenticity, quality and safety.
** The quality trademark UMF can be used only by licensed users who must be a New Zealand company and meet set criteria.
** All UMF license holders are independently audited to meet stringent standards in terms of production, manufacturing, sampling and handling.
** The UMF designation and rating is a highly sought-after and well-respected quality trademark.
The Power of Manuka
All wild raw honey has home health and healing value, but Manuka is head and shoulders above all others due to its chemical composition and anti-bacterial properties. It has been know for:
Reducing high cholesterol
Reducing systemic inflammation
Treating eye, ear, and sinus infections
Treating gastrointestinal problems
Externally for youthful skin (great as a pre-shave face mask)
My article on a woman who said it totally healed her acne and bad skin
Treats Skin Conditions such as Acne, Psoriasis, and Eczema
Like all quality honey, exponential benefits when combined with cinnamon
Go forth my Honey Lovers!!!
I hope this post saves someone some time and gives a little direction when trying to find a quality Manuka product.
I've learned once you get over that "research hump" with many of these products, you can have an amazingly healthy product right in your home that will provide health, healing, and cosmetic benefits for decades to come.
…….and maybe even tacking an extra decade or two, since products like Manuka contribute to longevity!!
more info can be had at the UMF Association Website
...you also might want to check out a good site devoted to Manuka, called BestManuka.com
you might also like…….
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