We’re often asked the differences between the different types of Manuka Honey rating systems, and so in this article, we thought we’d focus on the Wedderspoon KFactor rating system.
Manuka Honey rating systems background
Firstly, and most importantly, all Wedderspoon Manuka Honey complies with the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Primary Industries regulations, called the Manuka scientific definition, or sometimes known as Manuka5 certification. The Ministry of Primary Industries act in the same way as our UK DEFRA government department, in so much as they ensure all food producers and particularly exporters comply to all the required regulations including premises inspections and scientific tests for the raw or finished product. The Manuka Honey regulations are strict as it is a key export from New Zealand, which has been damaged by the wake of fake Manuka Honey flooding the UK marketplace 10 years ago.
All Manuka Honey exported from New Zealand must have either a MULTIFLORAL or MONOFLORALrating to be considered genuine Manuka Honey. This certification is based on the results from specific laboratories, approved by the New Zealand Government to perform the Manuka scientific definition test. An export license is only granted after the MPI see the batch.
So, what is the KFactor Manuka Honey rating system?
KFactor is a private rating system that has been approved by New Zealand’s government department of Ministry of Primary Industries to be consistent & compliant, in its methodology and testing. They authorise for the KFactor trademark to be applied to Wedderspoon Manuka Honey using the KFactor methodology.
The KFactor method tests for the concentration of Manuka DNA, in other words, Manuka pollen. Without Manuka pollen in the honey, you cannot guarantee that the honey is Manuka.
A few years ago, Wedderspoon became a key industry partner working alongside the team at the Ministry of Primary Industries to help create the Manuka scientific definition test. Unbelievably, up until this stage, the only Manuka Honey manufacturer that tested for the presence of Manuka pollen was Wedderspoon. The MPI realised the importance of this part of their testing method and decided to make it a key marker in the 5 elements of the Manuka scientific definition. No other rating system (MGO & UMF) has had an element of their test, included in the Manuka scientific definition, in fact, the MPI do not specifically test for the presence of MGO (Methylglyoxal) in their scientific test as they say, results can be manipulated by heating the honey, something that regularly happened when the fake manuka honey was being manufactured in New Zealand.
Is KFactor Manuka better than MGO or UMF Manuka Honey?
In a word, yes. Whilst MGO & UMF Manuka honey complies to the Monofloral or Multifloral MPI Manuka 5 scientific definition test to confirm there is Manuka DNA in the honey, only Wedderspoon’s KFactor testing checks for a higher concentration of DNA, which means there is a higher level of properties from the Manuka bush, in your Manuka honey. MGO, or Methylglyoxal isn’t part of the key testing element from the MPI rating system as the MPI report states that MGO isn’t unique to Manuka Honey and can be unstable during the shelf life of the product (unless carefully temperature controlled). Methylglyoxal may be useful for medical applications (e.g. topical application of medical grade honey), but it is unsuitable as an attribute to authenticate mānuka honey when sold as a food.
Which manufacturers use KFactor?
The KFactor rating system is a proprietary rating system that has been trademarked by Wedderspoon Manuka Honey. Only Wedderspoon can use this rating system.
One final point we feel it’s important to share is that when buying Manuka Honey, it is important to remember, that only the MONOFLORAL and MULTIFLORAL ratings are part of the Manuka scientific definition test, and this test is the ONLY government regulated and approved standard for Manuka Honey in the world.