What is MGO?
Grading Mānuka Honey
MGO is short for Methylglyoxal.
Methylglyoxal is the reason Mānuka honey is special, it’s the key element and why you’d buy Mānuka honey over a normal pasture or bush honey found in your local supermarket. It’s what makes Mānuka honey so widely used, from holistic health to hospitals world wide.
As we touched on above, this is the key number you’re looking for when buying Mānuka honey. The higher this number the better- but also the rarer and harder to find.
There are many different grading systems used for Mānuka honey; MGO, UMF, NPA, K-Factor, Pollen Count, Activity Level. We primarily use MGO because it’s the most efficient and widely accepted method, but more importantly it’s also the most honest and accurate grading system.
When you see 5+, 10+, 15+ it is generally relating to either it’s UMF or NPA. We will explain these numbers shortly…
What’s essential to know is that both of these numbers and grading systems directly relate to the MGO (sometimes shown as MG)- it is the defining factor, the one which rules them all. Check out our handy chart below!
And the Others? K-Factor, BioActive, NPA, UMF?!
I’m so glad you asked. There are way too many descriptors of Mānuka Honey- even we get confused!
Let’s break down other’s you might come across:
Pollen Count: Mānuka flowers are very low in pollen, and it’s difficult to grade Mānuka based solely on pollen, it also can be confused easily with it’s cousin, Kanuka. So although we use it confirm that it’s authentic Mānuka- we cant rely on it to grade. For example, you could have a high pollen count but very low MGO.
K-Factor: Does not grade the honey according to it’s most important attributes, i.e. MGO, (or NPA/UMF) but instead pollen and other less regarded attributes.
BioActive: A term not widely accepted due to it’s misleading name. Relates to both it’s peroxide* and non-peroxide activity levels, often seen on Australian Tee Tree honey.
*see NPA definition.
UMF: A trademarked term which you need to pay a hefty amount for. It is short for ‘Unique Manuka Factor’. This measures the MGO as well as HMF (heat) and Leptospermum (pollen).
We’d prefer to spend our money on delivering quality product and saving our bees. Learn more here
NPA: ‘All honey is beneficial’ -something you may have heard, and almost true. All raw honey is beneficial would be more correct. ‘Peroxide activity’ refers to a natural, mild hydrogen peroxide formed by the enzyme glucose oxidase that bees add to nectar during it’s natural process into honey. However, this ‘peroxide’ can be damaged by other liquids, heat or even direct sunlight! Ruining the benefits of honey. In the 90’s, (whilst we were playing with chatter rings) Dr. Peter Molan discovered that New Zealand Mānuka honey due to the presence of Methylglyoxal (MGO) has antimicrobial properties which are not influenced by heat, liquid or sunlight- so he dubbed this property it’s ‘non-peroxide activity’.
It is measured as an equivalent to phenol. So a ‘5+’ has a 5% equivalent to phenol, 15+ = 15%, etc. You may see it depicted on independent laboratory certificates when you batch trace honey. UMF also adopts this phenol equivalent definition.
End of the World Honey Co uses Methylglyoxal (MGO) to grade our Mānuka honey.
*the information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Always engage a medical professional or healthcare provider if when seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.