Do you Manuka? If you answered yes to that question, you're not alone. Sales of authentic Manuka honey in the UK have skyrocketed in recent years. Authentic Manuka honey is a delicious and versatile ingredient for consumption, effortlessly applied to countless dishes, and is a natural cure for various ailments when applied topically. What's not to love?
Sadly, human nature needs to be factored into consideration. Whenever a product becomes popular and commonplace in shopping baskets across the globe, inferior imitations will invariably start to appear. Manuka honey is no exception. Consumers have rushed to invest in this product due to the aforementioned health benefits, but these advantages only apply to authentic produce. When it comes to Manuka honey, shop carefully – you may be paying a premium price for a substandard product.
Genuine Manuka honey in the UK is comparatively rare. The honey is extracted from the Manuka bush in New Zealand, which is pollinated by the local bee population. The catch is that this plant only blooms for a maximum of 6 weeks in any given year – sometimes as little as a fortnight, depending on the conditions of the season.
Purveyors of authentic Manuka honey in the UK are acutely aware of this and time their harvests accordingly. If extracted directly from the source, Manuka honey contains three core compounds.
· Methylglyoxal (MGO) – an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory compound that provides the majority of the goodness in authentic Manuka honey
· Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – a compound that ensures the honey can be accurately aged and dated in a laboratory setting
· Leptosperin – a compound only found in authentic Manuka honey, named after the Latin name for the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium)
This raises a critical question when considering whether to purchase products from a Manuka honey shop. How do you know what is authentic Manuka honey, and what has been artificially engineered or altered to exploit the popularity of this product?
As discussed, the presence of leptosperin is the biggest giveaway. This cannot be faked, altered or added after the fact. Only authentic Manuka honey, UK or otherwise, contains leptosperin. Alas, you're unlikely to have the skills and equipment necessary to check for this compound at home unless you have a side hustle as a chemical engineer.
Thankfully, a reputable Manuka honey shop will set your mind at rest by doing this for you. Manuka honey should be provided with a certificate of authenticity. This means that the product has undergone extensive laboratory testing, confirming that it was extracted directly from New Zealand and has not been tampered with in any way. If a Manuka honey shop or seller declines to provide this evidence, walk away and find an alternative supplier.
There is no denying that authentic Manuka honey is one of nature's miracles. Like all miracles, however, it can be exploited. When looking to purchase Manuka honey, shop with care and attention. Manuka honey can be costly, but if you buy genuine Manuka honey in the UK, the health benefits mean that it's cheap at twice the price. The same cannot be said for artificial Manuka honey.
Published by Annie Mardel