Thursday, May 29, 2008

Manuka Honey Row Escalates

NZPA, 5/29/2008

A Te Awamutu honey company at odds with other New Zealand apiarists promoting anti-bacterial manuka honey claims rating tests for medical effectiveness gives varying results for the same batches of honey.

Manuka Health NZ Ltd, said today that the wider manuka honey industry had failed to disclose that repeated tests on the same sample can vary by up to 50 per cent in terms of its anti-bacterial effectiveness.

It said New Zealand Laboratory Services Ltd had stated two years ago there was a problem with the "repeatability" of results for honeys rated at UMF 20 with high anti-bacterial activity levels.

Manuka Health has been in dispute with the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) - which watchdogs the unique manuka factor (UMF) rating system and its associated brand - and has funded German researchers who say measuring a specific chemical compound is a more reliable rating method.

The German researchers announced two years ago that a natural compound, methylglyoxal, is responsible for manuka honey's unique antibacterial properties.

This chemical can be measured with an accuracy of 2-3 per cent.

Industry observers are concerned the argument may cause confusion among customers of UMF honey products - including medical items such as wound dressings - which are worth more than $100 million…

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