UMF™ is a grading system used to certify the authenticity and potency of genuine manuka honey. It’s not an ingredient that is added to manuka honey, but rather a way of knowing that you’re getting the real deal.
The UMF™ system holds New Zealand honey producers to some of the highest testing standards in the world, by looking for 4 key chemical markers in every batch of manuka honey.
Honey has gained a global reputation as a health and wellness hero.
As a result, the market is flush with fakes.
But looking for honey with a UMF™ grade will ensure you get the real stuff. The good stuff.
However, UMF™ isn’t something that honey contains.
It’s a measure of quality and authenticity, specific to manuka honey.
Honey with a UMF™ grade will only ever be monofloral manuka honey from New Zealand.
What UMF™ is and why it exists
UMF™ standards for Unique Manuka Factor.
The grading system is regulated by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA), and measures different chemical compounds in the manuka honey.
These unique compounds have made manuka honey famous throughout the world as a health and wellness superfood, which has also led to plenty of imposters.
The UMF™ grading system exists to sort the genuine stuff from the fakes.
So you know that honey with a UMF™ grade is the real deal.
“We’ve identified 2,300+ natural compounds in New Zealand mānuka honey that contribute to its unique taste, texture and support of health & wellness.
To produce mānuka honey that can be certified as the world’s finest quality, New Zealand’s honey producers have to adhere to a unique quality system. We are the keepers of that system.
The system builds on the New Zealand government, Ministry of Primary Industries tests that validate all honey sold as mānuka is genuine.”
Read more: UMF™ Honey and the UMFHA
What UMF™ grades mean
UMF™ isn’t an ingredient in honey.
It’s a measure of what’s inside manuka honey specifically.
The unique compounds that have been researched by scientists for decades.
Different batches of manuka honey contain different levels of these compounds.
A UMF™ grade tells you that your manuka honey is authentic, and how much of the beneficial compounds it contains.
One of these compounds is methylglyoxal (MGO). You may have seen this featured on manuka honey jars.
So honey with a UMF™ grade contains MGO.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The 4 unique compounds that must be present for a batch of honey to be elibigle for a UMF™ grade are:
This stands for methylglyoxal, and is a key compound that provides many of the antibacterial properties of manuka honey. You’ll see that many manuka honey jars only display an MGO rating, but this isn’t regulated in the same way as UMF™. So MGO alone doesn’t ensure authenticity.
The latin name for the manuka plant is leptospermum scoparium, and the leptosperin compound can only be found in this plant. So this compound confirms that the honey is from the manuka plant.
This stands for dihydroxyacetone and is slowly converted to MGO over a honey’s lifetime. The more DHA in honey, the longer its shelf-life will be.
This stands for hydroxymethylfurfural and indicates that the honey hasn’t overheated or been stored for too long. These things can compromise its beneficial properties.
Here are two examples of what the different honey with UMF™ grading contents look like:
As you can see, the quantities of these compounds in manuka honey can vary quite a lot.
The higher grades are harder to come by, which also explains the price differences.
UMF™ grades help you decide which is best for you based on your needs.
Read more: How much UMF™ is enough?
Where to buy your authentic UMF™ graded honey
Honey is one of the most faked foods in the world.
But manuka honey with a UMF™ grade has been independently tested by experts to rigorous standards.
Just like our honey.
So you can trust what’s in the jar.
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