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UMF, MGO, Active....What's The Difference?


What does it all mean? Well, hopefully I can help you understand the world of honey lingo! I will try my best to be as concise as I can, but should you have any more questions or queries please contacts me here & I’ll happily answer them.



What is UMF?

UMF means ‘Unique Manuka Factor’. This is the measurement used to detect the presence of Manuka honey's special non-peroxide antibacterial activity. This will lead you to other questions such as ‘what about the peroxide activity?’ Well, the majority of honeys you find - table honey or Manuka - will have some level of hydrogen peroxide in them (peroxide activity). You may not know but hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria: it is ‘antibacterial’.

What is NPA?

NPA stands for ‘Non-peroxide activity.’ Back in 1981 Dr Peter Molan, through scientific testing, confirmed that some Manuka honey had a naturally present, highly stable and very powerful anti-bacterial activity not found in other honeys.

What do the different levels mean?

5+, 10+, 15+ ? What do they mean. To keep it simple, it’s the strength of the NPA within the honey. The honey will have been tested by an accredited laboratory to determine its strength and that is indicated by the UMF number shown on the jar. Quite simply, the higher the number the more anti bacterial properties within the honey, i.e. the faster and more completely the honey will kill bacteria, viruses & microbes. Anything under 10+ is considered to be non therapeutic so, if you have a specific problem you need to tackle, you need to get a high number: 10+ is good, 15+ is very good.

What is ‘Active’ honey?

In short ALL honey is active! It means that the honey has some kind of peroxide activity, which all do in one way or another. There are no laws governing the use of putting “Active” on a jar. I could go and buy some honey and put any label I like on it. I could call it “Active 15+” and sell it for 200% profit! There is no one to tell me I cannot do it: no regulations or governing bodies to control this type of wording. SO BEWARE and check to make sure you are buying the honey you actually want! You may even find a label that states “Manuka Active 20+” - you often find these in supermarkets. This just means there is SOME manuka honey in there but quite  probablymixed with other floral honey. If you are looking for some active honey which, incidentally, is very good for you, then make sure it has been tested for its phenol equivalent and is certified. This means it will have undergone a laboratory test to determine that it does have some healing properties.

What is MGO?

MGO is short for a substance called Methylglyoxal – pronounced meth-uhl-glahy-ok-suhl – an organic substance found in Manuka honey that has a part to play in the honey's antibacterial properties. However, whilst MGO is an important part of Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) honey, tests have shown that even if removed UMF honey still retains its antibacterial qualities So it is only a small part of the healing nature of UMF Manuka Honey. You may now be asking “What’s the point of MGO and is there any way I can tell I'm getting genuine healing Manuka Honey?” – Yes there is! Make sur you buy UMF manuka honey!


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