Methylglyoxal (MGO) is one of the chemical markers of manuka honey. MGO and UMF. You may be familiar with the fact that honey has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Press the ‘Convert to MGO’ button to see the equivalent MGO content (mg/kg). These labels are very misleading and are unlikely to offer any of the antibacterial benefits manuka honey is known for. So, if the honey has a high level of NPA, you can be confident that it’s genuine Manuka honey. UMF grades start at 5+ and go as high as 25+ and MGO starts at 30+ and goes above 800+. The ExportX manuka honey UMF-MGO calculator implements a conversion formula derived from the scientific research by Adams et al. Hydrogen peroxide also breaks down when exposed to an enzyme found in saliva and blood. Many different kinds of honey have low levels of methylglyoxal that don’t provide any antibacterial benefit. This antibacterial activity, referred to as as non-peroxide activity (NPA), distinguishes Manuka from all other honeys and is why Manuka honey is so sought after. There’s a mathematical relationship between a manuka honey’s concentration of methylglyoxal and its non-peroxide activity, and thus its equivalent UMF rating. We’ll dive into each of the most popular Manuka honey grading systems and let you know what they mean. The only thing to keep in mind is that there is no third party testing and verification of these claims so make sure it’s from a company you trust. Methylglyoxal (MGO) is one of the chemical markers of manuka honey. Phenol is a common antiseptic and is often used in research as a benchmark to compare the relative strength of other antibiotic substances (like Manuka honey). Gordana, manuka honey with MGO content of 550 mg/kg would be rated UMF 15+, provided it also contained 460mg/kg of leptosperin. It ensures the honey is genuine Manuka and gives you a grade that accurately reflects the non-peroxide antibacterial potency of the honey. When you’re shopping for a jar of Manuka honey the big question you should ask is: Does this honey have non-peroxide activity and how strong is it? Some honey brands use methylglyoxal content alone as the basis of their honey grading system, notably Manuka Health. See the UMF Honey Association website for the complete list. So, go for honey that has at least a 10+ rating. The higher the amount of Methylglyoxal in the manuka, the better is the purity and quality of the manuka. The number reflects the antibiotic strength of the honey relative to the antibiotic strength of phenol. Rather, the MGS standard will not provide a grade for honey that has MGO levels of less than 100mg/kg. If you’re buying lower grade honey (less than MGO 100) there’s no guarantee that the honey is primarily Manuka honey. The MGS system runs independent audits at various stages of honey production to ensure that it’s quality standards are upheld by honey producers. Clues to non-premium honey are mentions of ‘total activity’, ‘peroxide activity’, the absence of a UMF trademark, or ratings based on any factors other than UMF or methylglyoxal content. For the purposes of conversion, we assume a honey’s UMF rating is generally equivalent to its non-peroxide activity measured as % phenol. It’s relatively easy for any company to get their honey tested and put the results on their label. Heating the honey severely degrades the hydrogen peroxide and the honey’s antibacterial activity is similarly degraded. Grading systems that report only on the purity of the honey are not useful because we know that not all Manuka honey has NPA. The best Manuka honey grading systems will focus on conveying the strength of the non-peroxide activity of the honey. After nearly 30 years, researchers we able to identify methylglyoxal (MGO) as the active ingredient that is responsible for Manuka’s non-peroxide activity. Yep, the same stuff you put on cuts and scrapes as an antiseptic. It’s up to the company to test their own honey and put the results on the label. UMF also tests for the presence of leptosperin, a natural compound unique to Manuka, to assure purity of the honey. While most honey contains small amounts of MGO (typically 0 to 7mg/kg), Manuka honey can contain more than 100 times the MGO found in normal honey. Before we look at individual grading systems, we first need to take a closer look at Manuka honey and what makes it so special. Manuka Me Better is committed to being your go-to resource for all things Manuka. Set aside the seemingly arbitrary numbers for the KFactor grading system for a minute and consider this. Methylglyoxal occurs naturally in Manuka honey as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), an organically occurring compound found in Manuka flower nectar, spontaneously dehydrates. With so many grading systems it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. Graph courtesy Andrew Robinson, The Honey Store. And, while it may taste like Manuka, Kanuka honey does not have the same NPA that Manuka honey does. UMF and MGO ratings are both used to indicate the antibacterial strength of Manuka Honey. Do not use this manuka honey UMF-MGO conversion calculator for ‘bioactive’, ‘total activity’ or other ratings, as these non-UMF honey ratings mostly do not qualify as genuine premium UMF/MGO manuka honey. Also, systems that report on the ‘activity’ of the honey as a whole (both peroxide and non-peroxide activity) can be very misleading. Use our free UMF-MGO calculator to compare UMF and MGO manuka honey. While purity of the honey is a concern, it becomes less important if you know the NPA of the honey. Third party independent testing and verification ensures the quality of the honey that’s in the bottle will match or exceed what’s on the label. It should be noted that anything less than a 10+ UMF Manuka honey is not considered to have significant antibacterial activity. It is a natural compound with antibacterial properties and is measured in the UMF and MGO grading systems. The MGO Manuka Honey grading system is a precise and reliable test that simply and directly reflects the MGO content of the honey. Most honey producers use heat to extract honey from the honeycomb and to pasteurize it. A score of 5+ means the antibiotic strength of the Manuka is of equivalent strength to a mixture of 5% phenol and 95% water. UMF Manuka honey is some of the most trusted Manuka honey around, and for good reason. Some unscrupulous honey producers have taken advantage of this confusion and marketed their Manuka honey in ways that obscure the non-peroxide activity of their honey. A widely accepted and comprehensive grading system is UMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor) which is overseen by the UMFHA (Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association) in New Zealand. MGO numbers can be seen typically from MGO 83+ to MGO 1000+. This means KFactor honey could be Manuka honey as easily as it could be Kanuka honey. This means they currently provide no insight into the NPA in their honey. One thing to note is that the presence of methylglyoxal in honey doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s genuine Manuka honey. Comparing a 10+ UMF Manuka honey to a KFactor 12 Manuka honey is like comparing apples to oranges. He was considered the leading authority on medical research on Manuka honey in the world until his death in 2015.