Saturday, May 31, 2008

Molan: Manuka Tests May Give Different Results, Yet Still Be Accurate

Honey Ratings System Under Fire
All About Hawke’s Bay (New Zealand), 5/30/2008

A honey industry association which owns a ratings system for medical honey today stepped up the level of tit-for-tat retaliation with a dissident honey company.

The rebel company, Manuka Health Ltd, last night alleged the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) had known for two years that laboratory tests of the antibacterial action in some manuka honey can vary by up to 50 percent when the same sample is tested…

Professor Peter Molan, of Waikato University, who set up the UMF standard, said microbiological assays always have a degree of error because living organisms -- such as the bacteria used in the tests -- varied.

"If tests are done repeatedly on the same sample of honey -- and within the range the assay was designed to be used for -- the variation is within one UMF unit," he said. The assay tests were originally designed for UMF values up to 20 -- because that was the highest level of activity found before apiarists started to heat the honey to raise the activity level. The tests could be used for more active levels, if the honey was diluted.

Prof Molan said natural honey could vary in its chemical composition within the same drum of honey, and successive samples from the same drum could give different results, yet still be accurate.

Prof Molan spent years researching "active" manuka honey and his work has been developed by apiarists using the UMF umbrella to create a market for medical honey, wound dressings and similar products which they say are worth more than $100 million...

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