New Zealand manuka honey is produced by bees that collect nectar from the manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium). While this official definition sounds simple enough, it's important to understand the science behind labeling and grading this wonderful honey. So what is the MGO in manuka honey and why should you pay attention to this important rating?
What is MGO in Manuka Honey?
MGO stands for methylglyoxal, the organic compound responsible for the strong antibacterial properties of manuka honey. Scientists are still investigating exactly how methylglyoxal interacts with other compounds to produce the unique health benefits of manuka.
Methylglyoxal health benefits
The MGO rating you find on many labels shows the amount of methylglyoxal in honey. For example, Manuka honey with an MGO rating of 83+ contains at least 83 mg of methylglyoxal per kilogram.
In fact, the MGO level in manuka can be up to 100 times higher than other raw honey, which is why it is often referred to as a superfood. Some scientists believe that manuka acts as a natural type of antibiotic.
Over the past couple of decades, scientists have tested manuka honey against a wide variety of bacterial strains and have found that manuka effectively inhibits nearly all bacteria tested, even those that are resistant to antibiotics. In addition, attempts to develop a honey-resistant strain of bacteria have not been successful. Manuka has also been found to aid in wound healing and tissue regeneration by promoting the body's natural ability to heal itself.
How to identify real manuka honey
In New Zealand, all manuka honey intended for export must be tested by an MPI recognized laboratory. MPI stands for Ministry of Primary Industries. In 2017, this body was responsible for developing a clear identification and labeling system for all manuka sold overseas. This was done so that international consumers can be sure that they are actually buying real manuka honey.
A lot of scientific research has gone into creating the two-part MPI test that identifies Manuka honey.
The first part is a DNA test for the presence of manuka pollen.
The second test establishes the levels of four key chemicals: phenyllactic acid, methoxyacetophenone, methoxybenzoic acid, and hydroxyphenyllactic acid.
If the sample does indeed contain these five components (manuka pollen plus four chemicals), then it is indeed manuka.
Why are MGO ratings so important?
Due to the growing claims for this wonderful natural health product, manuka honey has become highly sought after by consumers all over the world. A profitable industry has developed in many countries.
Strict labeling rules developed by New Zealand's Department of Primary Industries protect consumers from anyone trying to cash in on the high price tags of quality manuka. The MGO rating is your guarantee that the honey you buy is really what it claims to be.