Honey industry takes broader view on manuka tests

New Zealand's manuka honey industry has arranged for two laboratories in Asia and Europe to test for the special antibacterial activity present in some strains of manuka honey, to make it easier for supermarket chains and other offshore customers to verify its quality.

The labs are additional to two already used in New Zealand by processors and exporters.

Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) general manager John Rawlcliffe said the laboratories will be able to use not only tests on anti-bacterial activity but also objective chemical markers such as the methylglyoxal content.

The association has in recent years been caught up in a row between manuka honey companies over the best way to label the anti-bacterial qualities of active manuka honey, but Mr Rawlcliffe said today that it was important to have the domestic industry working together, because its main competition was offshore.

"The New Zealand honey market faces challenges from overseas.

"It needs to move past its own internal positioning and ensure that the honey standards can be protected and affirmed in an international market".

The association recognised the need to be professional, to show leadership and present a way forward for the industry that did not involve "finger-pointing".

AMHA previously has heavily focused on protecting its UMF (unique manuka factor) quality mark, and has argued against methylglyoxal being used alone as a measure of the honey's antibacterial properties.

Other companies outside the association favoured the measure because it was not part of the protected UMF labelling system.



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