By Peter Berk
Fake Manuka Honey Continues To Saturate U.S. Market
With more consumers learning about the considerable culinary and wellness attributes of New Zealand Manuka Honey every day, it’s no surprise that numerous brands are trying to capitalize on this lucrative trend by offering knock-off products that deflect their lower quality by selling for a lower price.
Indeed, not only are many of these brands making highly questionable authenticity claims on their labels that fall well short of New Zealand’s strict industry guidelines, but some are even sold in clear bottles despite the fact that Manuka honey is extremely light sensitive.
Why We Shouldn’t Count on Pollen Counts
Among the most troubling developments in the “fake Manuka” category, today are brands which try to validate the purity and effectiveness of their products by relying on pollen counts (i.e. K Factor) and other grading systems as a supposedly authoritative form of testing.
For consumers seeking high-quality Manuka honey products from New Zealand that can enhance their cuisine and potentially improve their health, a high pollen count would, on the surface, seem to make perfect sense. Honey. Bees. Pollen. What could possibly be wrong with that equation?
As it turns out – a great deal.
UMF – the Certified Gold Standard
According to John Rawcliffe, General Manager of New Zealand’s respected Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association, developing a fool-proof definition of Manuka honey has proven easier said than done over the years, but pollen counts (the measurement of the concentration of pollen trapped in honey) are certainly not the answer.
The independent UMF certified labs of New Zealand test every batch of Manuka honey for its potency, purity, and effectiveness — not once but three times to ensure accuracy. The lab measures the active and leptosperin content of Manuka that determines its unique antibacterial properties. Other sellers of Manuka use pollen count like K Factor, which is a misleading and ineffective designation and devoid of any medicinal attributes.
Moreover, UMF labeled products should have a lab tested batch number on each jar. Some UMF suppliers do NOT test every batch and therefore can’t supply a Certificate of Analysis for each jar.