The UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) says recent advances in science mean it is now possible to definitively identify genuine Manuka Honey.
UMFHA Administrator John Rawcliffe said, over the past four years, the Association’s members had been driving rapid advances in the application of science using high resolution mass spectrometry to the point where products claiming to contain genuine Manuka Honey can be readily authenticated.
“We have a comprehensive database of Manuka and other floral origin samples. These have been collected from across the length and breadth of New Zealand over the last three seasons and can be used to test for Manuka Honey. Once this receives final international verification, testing agencies in all our key markets will be able to use a web -based model to easily check Manuka Honey products as being true to type.”
John said the new data set will provide real assurance and long-term confidence amongst consumers and regulatory authorities in markets where Manuka Honey is sold.
“This will be a significant breakthrough for the industry, in terms of being able to differentiate Manuka Honey from other floral type honeys. We now understand in a much more comprehensive way the complex array of signature compounds that make Manuka Honey such a special product. This discovery offers the ability to differentiate and position genuine Manuka Honey apart from the raft of ‘me too’ products currently being sold.”
John said the new web-based analytical model is the latest innovation to be introduced by the UMFHA, following last year’s announcement at a Primary Production Select Committee of the discovery of the novel compound – Leptosperin – found in Manuka Honey.
Leptosperin is one of a number of key signature compounds found in Manuka Honey. It is relatively stable and cannot be easily synthesised. Leptosperin also fluoresces, which led to a New Zealand-based consortium developing a prototype portable fluorescence testing unit last year. Leptosperin was identified by leading international researcher Professor Yoji Kato of the University of Hyogo, Kobe.
“The discovery of Leptosperin, along with the development of our soon to be released analytical model, is yet another step forward in the Association’s industry-leading scientific programme which aims to assist international markets in identifying genuine Manuka Honey.
The Association’s latest science was presented this month to a group of international industry leaders at the Bee Products Industry Conference in China.
John said members of the UMFHA had taken a very responsible and proactive stance by supporting significant investment in research.
“Our members are collectively providing leadership for the industry on an international scale and building on its capabilities for self-monitoring.”
John said consumers should always check to see that products are carrying the UMF® quality mark, as a way of ensuring that they are buying genuine Manuka Honey.