Manuka Honey MGO and UMF Ratings Compared

Most genuine high-grade manuka honey from New Zealand includes a UMF rating on the label. Some honey producers instead use an MG or MGO rating. Honeys without a UMF or MG/MGO rating are generally low-grade honey without the beneficial characteristics that have made premium manuka honey so much in demand.

Please also see:

Manuka Honey UMF vs MGO Calculator
Manuka Honey Buyer’s Guide
The Top Manuka Honeys on Amazon.com
The Top Manuka Honeys on Amazon Germany

NPA stands for non-peroxide activity, the property that makes certain grades of UMF and MGO manuka honey special. Those manuka honeys that carry only a ‘total activity’ or ‘peroxide activity’ rating do not have this special NPA property and should be considered low-grade honey.

UMF ratings are based on specific natural markers characteristic of manuka honey, such as leptosperin and methylglyoxal. UMF ratings correspond to the potency of the desirable NPA properties of honey. Typically honey with NPA between 5 and 9.9 are labelled UMF 5+, honey with NPA ratings between 10.0 and 14.9 are rated UMF 10+, and so on.

MGO is methylglyoxal, sometimes referred to as MG.

Use this table to convert between manuka honey UMF, MGO and NPA ratings.

UMF RatingMinimum MGO*
Methylglyoxal
Minimum NPA**
Non-Peroxide Activity
-302.7
UMF 5+835.0
UMF 5+1005.6
UMF 5+2509.7
UMF 10+26310.0
UMF 12+35412.0
UMF 12+40012.9
UMF 15+51415.0
UMF 15+55015.6
UMF 18+69218.0
UMF 20+82920.0
* MGO is measured as mg/kg (ppm)
** NPA is measured as % solution (%w/v) of phenol/water

 

Examples of how to read this table:

UMF 15+ honey has a minimum MGO 514.

MGO 400 honey would be rated UMF 12+ (or UMF 10+).

MGO 550 honey would be rated UMF 15+.

UMF 20+ honey has a minimum MGO 829.

This graph from a scientific research paper shows the correlation between MGO and NPA. Graph courtesy Andrew Robinson, The Honey Store.

Graph correlation between MGO methylglyoxal and NPA non-peroxide activity

The official UMF honey association website umf.org.nz at one stage offered an online calculator that converted from MG/MGO to NPA/UMF and back the other way.

Screenshot NPA-MGO calculator

That UMF Association MGO/UMF calculator is no longer available.

Instead, use our free online UMF vs MGO calculator.

 

ExportX represents New Zealand manuka honey brands in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, including manuka honeys from Happy Valley, Taku Honey, Melora, Wild Cape and Manukora.

,

15 Responses to Manuka Honey MGO and UMF Ratings Compared

  1. hech 9 May 2016 at 10:21 am #

    Very nice info great.

    • Jukie 7 February 2017 at 12:16 pm #

      Does anyone know…do the letters UMF need to appear on the honey container? Mine just says +12 and another is K Factor 16. I’m confused

    • Paul Grey 9 February 2017 at 12:13 pm #

      Jukie, thanks for your question.

      If your honey label shows the trademarked UMF symbol and/or carries a UMF rating, then it will have been lab-tested for the markers that identify genuine manuka honey, including the unique-to-manuka leptosperin compound and the methylglyoxal (MGO) content.

      If your honey label shows an MGO rating and is from New Zealand, then there’s a good chance it is genuine, although it may not have had the full suite of UMF certifications.

      If your honey shows neither UMF nor MGO then it is more likely a low-grade honey blend which might have a little bit of manuka honey in it, or might not.

      Your honey showing +12, that might be a so-called “total activity” rating, which isn’t much use when it comes to genuine manuka honey, because any old table honey probably has “total activity.” Total activity is, unfortunately, misleadingly and confusingly, often used to present low-grade honey blends to look as though they are equivalent to genuine high-grade manuka honey.

      Be suspicious of any honey jar that mentions ‘total activity’. Regulations in New Zealand prohibit the use of the term “total activity” on honey labels.

      You mention that your other honey has a KFactor 16 rating. According to the Wedderspoon website, KFactor is a measure of the pollen count in honey. Scientists have for at least 3 or 4 years strongly advised against using pollen count to measure manuka honey. Why? There are several reasons.

      Firstly, honey isn’t made from pollen, it’s made from nectar.
      Secondly, manuka flowers do not produce much pollen.
      Thirdly, manuka pollen is almost indistinguishable from other types of pollen such as kanuka pollen. Kanuka is a similar-looking New Zealand tree but its nectar and honey does not have the same special attributes as manuka honey.
      Fourthly, as New Zealand beekeepers have often pointed out, bees do not like manuka pollen. They’ll collect manuka nectar, and if they need pollen they’ll visit other types of trees (such as kanuka).

      The consequence is that, for manuka honey, a honey rating based on pollen count isn’t actually measuring what’s in the honey. For manuka honey, a KFactor rating is no more useful than a total activity rating.

      In summary, genuine manuka honey will show either a methylglyoxal (MGO) content or a UMF rating. The UMF rating is the more complete certification of genuine manuka honey because it covers MGO and a variety of other tests based on the latest science.

      Honey without either UMF or MGO on its label? Probably not the real thing.

  2. Kristina 9 June 2016 at 8:31 pm #

    I recently bought from ALDI store “Manuka Honey M 30+ ” made by Bramwells. Can someone tell me if M 30+ is legit or not.

    • Paul Grey 20 June 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Kristina, thank you for your post. If you could send more information about your honey, such as a link to where it’s available online or a photo of its label, someone might be able to identify it. “M 30+” is not a rating generally used in New Zealand, which suggests that it’s not a UMF-grade honey, and is more likely to be a low-grade blend of bush honeys.

  3. Brian peters 27 June 2016 at 4:32 am #

    Yes kristina I have that too and am wondering the same thing it says on the back of the Branwells new Zealand manuka honey that it contains atleast.. 30mg/kg of Methylglyoxal……does anyone know if thats any good?

    • Paul Grey 27 June 2016 at 8:44 am #

      Brian, thank you for your post. Honey with a methylglyoxal (MG/MGO) content of 30 mg/kg would be a blend of manuka honey, insufficiently concentrated to earn a UMF rating. I would consider it equivalent to other non-UMF honeys sold as manuka or manuka blend, that is, a lower grade than UMF 5+ manuka honey which requires minimum MGO 83.

  4. Alan 24 July 2016 at 12:46 am #

    Thank you Paul. The Aldi 350g jar is sold for $10. Aldi also sell other Manuka honey jars, but more expensive. I will check to see if it is properly labelled with Umf/Mgo. Y cu u

  5. Gordana 12 September 2016 at 11:37 am #

    Hi i recently buy Manuka Honey MGO550+. Is that 20+ in other meaning? Thank you. Gordana

    • Paul Grey 12 September 2016 at 1:43 pm #

      Gordana, manuka honey with MGO content of 550 mg/kg would be rated UMF 15+, provided it also contained 460mg/kg of leptosperin. Leptosperin is the marker that confirms genuine manuka honey, identified by recent scientific research. UMF 20+ honey would be much more potent, with an MGO content of at least 826mg/kg.

  6. Lynda 15 September 2016 at 12:00 am #

    So pleased to see this info available to all, as manuka honey is being cheapened by fly by nighters

  7. nikhil yadav 23 September 2016 at 10:11 pm #

    how much quantity of manyka honey is ok to take and as its a strong honey how often can one take it like everyday or once a week . and with what food item can manuka honey be taken for best use ?

  8. Tudor Serban 4 January 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Don’t you get high MGO levels if you just boil any honey (including Manuka)? And isn’t that supposed to be toxic?

    • Paul Grey 4 January 2017 at 11:01 am #

      Tudor Serban, thank you for your post and question.

      I believe the answer is no. You must start with high-grade manuka honey to achieve high MGO levels.

      The reason is that MGO in manuka honey is produced naturally from the high DHA levels in the nectar of manuka flowers. This is one of the things that makes manuka special.

      Analytica Laboratories has published an explanation of the relationship between DHA and MGO. Paraphrasing their material:

      In 2009, scientists at the University of Waikato published research that showed that the methylglyoxal in New Zealand manuka honey originates from the chemical compound dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is present in the nectar of manuka flowers.

      The methylglyoxal (MG or MGO) in honey is created over time from the interaction of the dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in the honey with various naturally-occurring proteins and amino acids. All other things being equal, a manuka honey sample with a high DHA concentration has the potential to turn into a manuka honey with higher MGO concentration than a comparable manuka honey sample with a low DHA concentration.

      For more information on the chemistry of the DHA to MGO conversion that takes place in manuka honey, you might like to take a look at a recent presentation by Dr. Merilyn Manley- Harris, a leading research scientist in this area.

      In summary, you could warm your high-grade manuka honey and that might give you a temporary lift in the MGO concentration by accelerating the DHA-to-MGO process, but if you heat an ordinary honey chances are that all you’ll end up with is warm ordinary honey.

  9. Merilyn Manley-Harris 5 January 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi: the graph of NPA versus MGO that you are displaying appears to be one that I originated using our corrected data from the original Adams et al paper in Carbohydrate Research plus the corrigendum and circulated to some people; it was never actually published as such.
    If you send me an EMail to the address below I can send you the original EXCEL document.
    interestingly if you plot the square of NPA versus MGO you get a straight line apart from the scatter associated with measuring the well-diffusion result for NPA at very low levels.

Please add your comments.