Member’s update – May 2014

Manuka ID Project

Where are we up to?

The nectars that were collected throughout New Zealand from Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and other honey-producing plants e.g. Kanuka, Rewarewa, and Tawari, plus the shake-out (un-matured nectar collected from the hive) have been analysed for DHA, MGO, BRIX content, and chemical profile. The relationship between the nectar and the shake-out is also being analysed.

We will be sending in the authentic Manuka honey samples this week for full analysis. The relationship between all three stages of nectar maturation (Nectar, shake-out, and honey) will be studied.

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What is the first cut of results?

What we have learned is:

  1. That all Manuka honey has DHA (Dihydroxyacetone, the precursor to Methylglyoxal)
  2. No Kanuka collected had DHA present.
  3. We can say that if a honey does not have DHA, it is most likely not Manuka. However, the level of DHA does not correlate with the level of Manuka in the honey.
  4. We know that DHA levels are affected by heat and time.
  5. There are other good, stable markers for the level of Manuka that have been published, and the body of research is building.
  6. The results of the chemical profiling have produced other potentially stable and strong markers for Manuka, and have demonstrated other markers that can assist with provenance, down to the region the Manuka has come from.
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The Manuka ID Project collected nectar from every region in New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Bluff. In each region, the nectar collected from Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) had levels of DHA.

Getting labelling correct enables an industry to grow

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The Principles:

  1. Each monofloral honey is unique
  2. Each honey has a unique chemical profile
  3. Each chemical profile may have a set of bio-actives
  4. Bio-actives can work in synergy and have different attributes and properties within the honey.

An accurate way of measuring monofloral honeys to ensure each monofloral variety’s unique bioactivity can be understood and researched is critical in taking honey from a table product into the nutraceutical, and in future pharmaceutical product space. The pollen of various Leptospermum species (of which it has been reported that Australia has up to 84) is virtually identical, along with the pollen of Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides).

The benefits of understanding this pyramid of purity (penned by Dr Jonathan Stephens in 2010) is that it provides a foundation for industry advancement on a solid position, providing the consumer with products with potential nutraceutical and health benefits.

The costs of not securing this pyramid of purity is the inability to advance science and having all honeys being casually defined as Manuka. Eventually, the market will revert to the lowest common denominator and expose the industry to a media attack.