24 Apr 2009

Improved testing regime for manuka honey properties

1:58 pm on 24 April 2009

Waikato University scientists have developed a new way of carrying out tests that measure the antibacterial activity in manuka honey, which they describe as being more accurate than the one used by some honey producers at present.

The university's honey research unit first discovered the antibacterial properties in the honey, known as the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF, in 1982 and developed the world-wide standard to test for those properties.

Manuka honey has been used in dressings and bandages to treat chronic wounds because of those special properties.

The head of the research unit, Peter Molan, says the original test was never intended to be used for commercial purposes and in some instances laboratories testing the same honey sample have come up with different results.

Professor Molan says the old test could be misinterpred and sometimes carried a margin of error that downgraded the honey and cost producers hundreds or thousands of dollars.

He says the way the new test is carried out eliminates the variables.