Honey dipper in a small bowl of honey with a Manuka flower floating on the surface

What does MGO stand for in Manuka Honey?

And what’s happened to UMF and NPA? Discover the natural health benefits of Manuka honey

What is MGO?

MGO, or methylgloxal, is the magic ingredient in Manuka honey, with well-documented antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. All natural honey has some antibacterial effects, but scientists have discovered that Manuka's effects are much more potent, thanks to MGO.

The antibacterial properties of honey are provided by hydrogen peroxide. In normal table honey, the hydrogen peroxide activity breaks down, meaning the anti-bacterial benefits are lost. But in Manuka honey, thanks to MGO, the antibacterial properties remain even after the hydrogen peroxide has disappeared.

Manuka honey comes in a range of MGO ratings. The higher the number on the label, the better the health benefits and anti-bacterial properties are.

What MGO rating should I choose?

At Holland & Barrett, we've simplified the Manuka honey that we sell. This means you will only see MGO ratings on our labels and not UMF or NPA. If you've previously bought UMF or NPA-rated Manuka honey, then here is a simple chart that shows you the corresponding MGO level.

MGO Level UMF number/NPA Grade
85 MGO 5+
140 MGO 6+
240 MGO 8+
300 MGO 10+
525 MGO 15+
850 MGO 20+

How can I be sure I'm buying genuine Manuka honey?

We’ve always insisted on seeing documentation proving Manuka honey sold in Holland & Barrett stores is genuine. The New Zealand government has now brought in more strict legislation around Manuka honey and how it’s labelled, and all Manuka honey exported from New Zealand must now be laboratory-tested to prove it’s authentic.

The tests check for:

  • four active ingredients only found in Manuka honey
  • the DNA of Manuka pollen

All the Manuka honey we sell carries authenticity stamps, which shows that the honey has passed these stringent lab tests.

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