MANUKA HONEY TESTS

DIHYDROXYACETONE (DHA)

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a precursor chemical of MGO, is found in the nectar of Leptospermum Scoparium (Manuka) in New Zealand. The DHA levels are often still relatively high in freshly harvested honey. Over a period of time, the DHA will convert to MGO in the honey, through a natural chemical process.

DHA is a good indicator of the potential levels of MGO that will develop as the Manuka honey matures in storage.

METHYLGLYOXOL (MGO)

Methylglyoxal (MGO or MG) is an indicator of the activity in Manuka honey. Certain honeys derived from the New Zealand Manuka tree (Leptospermum Scoparium) have additional antimicrobial activity, above and beyond what is contributed by the above features.

TUTIN

Tutin is a toxin the bees inadvertently collect from tutu (Coriaria arborea), a poisonous New Zealand shrub. The maximum level of Tutin allowed in honey is 0.7 milligrams per kilogram.

C4 SUGARS

This test is used internationally to detect whether honey has been adulterated by adding sugar (mainly cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup).

In recent years it has been shown that Manuka honeys can have an apparent C4 sugar test result that is higher than 7%, even when it is clear that no sugar has been added. Ongoing research is being undertaken to investigate this, and perhaps identify an alternative way of detecting sugar adulteration. In the meantime, this remains as an important test for access to some international markets

Click here to read more about C4 Sugars in an article written by one of Analytica’s technologists for The New Zealand Beekeeper Journal.

HYDROXYMETHYLFLUORIDE (HMF)

Hydroxymethylfluoride is created by the thermal decomposition of sugars

  • HMF’s occurrence and accumulation in honey is variable dependingon honey type.
  • Heat increases the speed of this reaction.
  • HMF occurs naturally in most honeys and usually increases with the age and heat treatment of honey.

Please noted that HMF is not a harmful substance in levels found in food. Many sugar type products (e.g. Jams, Golden Syrup, and Molasses etc.) have levels of HMF that are 10-100 times that of honey. Many food items sweetened with high fructose corn syrups, e.g. carbonated soft drinks, can have levels of HMF between 100 and 1,000 mg/kg.

Fresh natural honey can have varying levels of HMF. Normally this is below 1 mg/ kg but levels soon start to rise with ambient temperatures above 20°C. It should be noted that temperatures in the beehive can rise to over 40°C during summer months (when the main honey crop is in progress). It is usual for HMF to be below 10 mg/kg in fresh extracted honey. Levels higher than this may indicate excessive heating during the extraction process.

CODEX ALIMENTARIUS STANDARD FOR HONEY 12 1981

“1.3 HYDROXYMETHYLFURFURAL CONTENT”
The hydroxymethylfurfural content of honey after processing and/or blending shall not be more than 40 mg/kg. However, in the case of honey of declared origin from countries or regions with tropical ambient temperatures, and blends of these honeys, the HMF content shall not be more than 80 mg/kg.”