What makes Manuka Honey so special?
Manuka Honey’s origin story is very much part of its name. Before it rose to its celebrated stature, most of New Zealand’s inhabitants did not enjoy Manuka due to its medicinal taste. Beekeepers were forced to sell their Manuka Honey to farmers who used it as feed for their cows.
As fate would have it, this is where Manuka’s meteoric rise would begin. The farmers started to notice the cows that were fed Manuka Honey rarely became ill in comparison to those that were not.
Manuka Honey owes its fame to a single compound, called methylglyoxal. A substance that has been known to the scientific community for years, to possess antibacterial properties.
The difference to other honeys, is that Manuka Honey is the only honey in the world that has a high naturally occurring Methylglyoxal content. Manuka Honey’s MGO content can range from 100 mg/kg to over 1000 mg/kg. Other honeys do not contain more than 10 mg/kg of MGO
Furthermore, the Manuka tree is native only to New Zealand, with only a few small occurrences in Australia. The harvest itself can be an arduous one, the season is short and production depends on many factors such as the hive health (number of bees in the hive), positioning of the hive in relation to manuka trees and other hives from competing Beekeeper, and responding to the flowering of the Manuka tree. All these factors are controlled by the beekeeper. Other factors such as the weather and wind impact the season as well, but here it comes down to luck.
MGO Manuka Honey Rating Scale Explained
Before 2005, when Thomas Henle discovered the substance that was responsible for Manuka Honey’s unique antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, Methylglyoxal, the Manuka Honey Industry used a qualitative scale to measure the antibacterial property called the Unique Manuka Factor, UMF for short.
Once the compound was discovered, Kerry Paul (Cosana New Zealand CEO) went about reforming the industry by introducing the scientific and accurate scale of the amount of Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey. He called this standard simply, MGO, short for Methylglyoxal.
Its strengths lie in the fact that it is scientifically proven and easy to understand. Its units are mg/kg. To exemplify this, take the MGO standard MGO100+, this ensures that the honey which carries this seal on its label has a minimum of 100 mg/kg of Methylglyoxal content concentration within it.
Learn about history of manuka
If you want to find out more about the history of the Manuka Honey and its MGO rating system and its predecessor the UMF rating scale please check out the article written by the one of the founders of the MGO rating system and the CEO of Cosana New Zealand, Mr. Kerry Paul: https://www.manukamgo.co.nz/