Manuka Honey
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Manuka Honey
Five-petaled white flowers and round buds on twigs bearing short spiky leaves. A dark bee is in the centre of one of the flowers.
A native bee visits a m?nuka flower (Leptospermum scoparium)
A bowl of m?nuka honey

M?nuka honey is a monofloral honey produced from the nectar of the m?nuka tree, Leptospermum scoparium. The honey is commonly sold as an alternative medicine. There is no conclusive evidence of medicinal or dietary value in using m?nuka honey other than as a sweetener. The word m?nuka is the M?ori name of the tree; the spelling manuka (without a macron) is common in English.


M?nuka honey is produced by European honey bees (Apis mellifera) foraging on the m?nuka (Leptospermum scoparium), which evidence suggests originated in Australia before the onset of the Miocene aridity.[1] It grows uncultivated throughout both southeastern Australia and New Zealand.[1][2][3]

M?nuka honey is markedly viscous. This property is due to the presence of a protein or colloid and is its main visually defining character, along with its typical dark cream to dark brown colour.[4][5]

M?nuka honey for export from New Zealand must be independently tested and pass the M?nuka Honey Science Definition test as specified by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), The test comprises five attributes. Four (4) are chemical and one (1) is DNA of Leptospermum scoparium.[2] The honey must pass all five tests to be labeled as m?nuka. This testing came into effect on 5 January 2018.[6]

The MPI does not have a definition for m?nuka sold in the New Zealand domestic market. The MPI Five attributes test is the only standard recognised by New Zealand legislation.

The Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA), has established a set of standards for authentic Australian Manuka honey. Honey that carries the AMHA's Mark of Authenticity must be pure, natural Manuka honey, produced entirely in Australia, and be tested by an independent, approved laboratory to ensure it meets minimum standards of naturally occurring methylglyoxal (MGO), dihydroxyacetone (DHA), and leptosperin.[7]

The m?nuka tree flowers at the same time as Kunzea ericoides, another Myrtaceae species also called k?nuka, which often shares the same growing areas. Some apiarists cannot readily differentiate these species, as both flowers have similar morphology and pollen differentiation between the two species is difficult. Therefore, melissopalynology as identification for the type of honey is valid only in association with other identification tests. In particular, L. scoparium honey is dark, whereas K. ericoides honey is pale yellow and clear, with a "delicate, sweet, slightly aromatic" aroma and a "sweet, slightly aromatic" flavour, and is not viscous.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris) honey is also viscous, but the plant flowers in late summer and its mountain distribution in north temperate Europe and central Asia does not correspond with that of Leptospermum scoparium. Therefore, its harvest cannot be mistaken for that of manuka honey.[clarification needed]


M?nuka honey has a strong flavour,[4] characterised as "earthy, oily, herbaceous",[8] and "florid, rich and complex".[9] It is described by the New Zealand honey industry as having a "damp earth, heather, aromatic" aroma and a "mineral, slightly bitter" flavour.


Methylglyoxal, a component of m?nuka honey, is under study for its potential activity against E. coli and S. aureus.[10] M?nuka honey does not reduce the risk of infection following treatment for ingrown toenails.[11]


As a result of the high premium paid for m?nuka honey, an increasing number of products now labelled as such worldwide are counterfeit or adulterated. According to research by UMFHA, the main trade association of New Zealand m?nuka honey producers, whereas 1,700 tons of m?nuka honey are made there annually representing almost all the world's production, some 10,000 tons of produce is being sold internationally as m?nuka honey, including 1,800 tons in the UK.[12] In governmental agency tests in the UK between 2011 and 2013, a majority of m?nuka-labelled honeys sampled lacked the non-peroxide anti-microbial activity of m?nuka honey. Likewise, of 73 samples tested by UMFHA in Britain, China and Singapore in 2012-13, 43 tested negative. Separate UMFHA tests in Hong Kong found that 14 out of 56 m?nuka honeys sampled had been adulterated with syrup. In 2013, the UK Food Standards Agency asked trading standards authorities to alert m?nuka honey vendors to the need for legal compliance.[12] There is a confusing range of systems for rating the strength of m?nuka honeys. In one UK chain in 2013, two products were labelled "12+ active" and "30+ total activity" respectively for "naturally occurring peroxide activity" and another "active 12+" in strength for "total phenol activity", yet none of the three were labelled for the strength of the non-peroxide antimicrobial activity specific to m?nuka honey.[12]

There have been increasing turf disputes between producers operating close to large m?nuka tree clumps, and also cases reported of many hives being variously sabotaged, poisoned, or stolen.[13][14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Stephens, JMC; Molan, PC; Clarkson, BD (2005). "A review of Leptospermum scoparium (Myrtaceae) in New Zealand". New Zealand Journal of Botany. 43 (2): 431-449. doi:10.1080/0028825x.2005.9512966. ISSN 0028-825X.
  2. ^ a b Matheson, Andrew; Reid, Murray (2011). Practical beekeeping in New Zealand, 4th Edition. Exisle Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 9781877568527.
  3. ^ Tanguy, C. Marina Marchese & Kim Flottum ; illustrations by Elara (2013). The honey connoisseur : selecting, tasting, and pairing honey, with a guide to more than 30 varietals. ISBN 9781579129293. It (Leptospermum scoparium) is native to New Zealand and Australia"
  4. ^ a b Jon Morgan (5 March 2009). "Money from honey - a family affair". Dominion Post. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ Ministry for Primary Industries. "Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey". New Zealand Government. Archived from the original on 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2014.
  6. ^ "M?nuka honey". Ministry of Primary Industry. 5 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Australian Manuka Honey Association - Our Quality Standards". Australian Manuka Honey Association. Retrieved .
  8. ^ Julie Biuso, Sizzle: Sensational Barbecue Food, Monterey, Cal.: Julie Biuso Publications, 2008, p. 154
  9. ^ Crescent Dragonwagon, Passionate Vegetarian, New York: Workman Publishing Co., 2002, p. 958
  10. ^ Israili, ZH (2014). "Antimicrobial properties of honey". American Journal of Therapeutics. 21 (4): 304-23. doi:10.1097/MJT.0b013e318293b09b. PMID 23782759.
  11. ^ Eekhof, JA; Van Wijk, B; Knuistingh Neven, A; van der Wouden, JC (Apr 18, 2012). "Interventions for ingrowing toenails". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 4 (4): CD001541. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001541.pub3. hdl:1871/48564. PMID 22513901.
  12. ^ a b c Jonathan Leake (26 August 2013). "Food fraud buzz over fake manuka honey". The Times (London). Archived from the original on 2013-09-15. Retrieved 2013.
  13. ^ Mike Barrington (7 November 2012). "Honey fights: Millions of bees slaughtered". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ Roy, Eleanor Ainge (2016-11-04). "Honey wars: crime and killings in New Zealand's booming manuka industry". the Guardian. Retrieved .

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