ABC consumer TV programme -The Checkout - aimed its sights at Manuka honey last night in the second episode of the popular show's 1918 season.

jar of Australian By Nature manuka honeyWith the help of a microbiologist at the University of Technology, Sydney - Dr Nural Cokcetin, it showed that some brands have unproven therapeutic claims on their marking materials and labels.

Checkout presenter Zoe Norton-Lodge appears to be in the late stages of pregnancy,

So she was particularly scathing about claims on the label of New Zealand's 'Royal Bee' brand of Manuka honey.

The label claims that the honey helps to improve and relieve the following symptoms.

"Regular stomach ache, Gastric Ulcer, Cold &Cough, Pregnant woman, Burn & wound".

However, it isn't at all clear that the Royal Bee brand still exists, or is still on the market.

Regrettably, that wasn’t the only area where the Checkout's segment disappointed.

For example the segment failed to recognize the significant differences between UMF and MGO ratings, and also failed to point out that not all Manuka honey has innate non-peroxide actitivity.

But it is difficult and indeed pointless to dispute the show's main point, that the claims by some brands are not supported by science.

One top-selling brand, for example - Australian By Nature,  claims that its Manuka honey can treat "gastroenteritis and constipation."

In fact, as Dr Cokcetin told viewers, there is little scientific support for claims that manuka honey continues to have therapeutic benefits once it is digested.

Dr Cokcetin said that manuka honey undoubtedly has benefits from topical or direct application.

And most, if not all honeys, have been known for thousands of years to have some pre-biotic effect.

But claims that Manuka honey is a superfood that can cure cancer, diabetes, stomach tumours or other internal ailments, are, for the most part, scientifically unproven.

Moreover, when using Manuka honey for topical treatment, she said it is safest to use products approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Personally, I recommend the book "manuka -the biography of an extraordinary honey" by Clive van Eaton, if you want to get a good grasp on the topic.

Eaton’s book contains a comprehensive overview of the science on manuka as well as some of the well-documented and indisputable therapeutic results achieved with manuka honey in hospitals.

So whilst manuka honey with greater potency and higher ratings is certainly more expensive, and whilst the Checkout concluded that they're too expensive, I'll respectfully disagree.

The higher potency manuka honeys are rare, and more difficult to produce.

A high price for a high-rating reflects the short supply of that manuka honey, and not just its potency.


The show is now available to view via the ABC's iView service, and should be accessible vai the shows website in about a week.

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