New scientific research has been published showing that many Australian manuka honeys are at least as potent as those produced in New Zealand. Moreover some of them appear to be even stronger, with significant potential for use in medical and health related applications.

Professor Liz Harry, from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who is the lead investigator of the research project, said the findings were potentially very significant because of  the crisis in standard anti-biotic treatments for bacterial infections.

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“It is thrilling to be able to use our research expertise and knowledge to help the bee industry and to address the antibiotic resistance crisis,” she said Professor Liz Harry.

“That the manuka varieties in Australia are just as active as those in New Zealand, and have essentially the same chemical profile, will add significant value to Australian honey for beekeepers and provide a plentiful supply of medicinal honey.”

Another of the UTS scientists involved in the research, Dr Nural Cokcetin, said that the findings provided scientific proof and backing for the Australian honey industry’s claims that local Manuka honeys are the same as those from New Zealand, and have unique properties.

“Our study provides the proof for what we’ve long assumed – that this compound, methylglyoxal (MGO), is present in high levels in Australian manuka honeys”

Dr Cokcetin also noted that this unique property is what makes manuka honey an effective treatment against superbugs like golden staff

“It’s the ingredient we know acts against golden staph and other superbugs resistant to current antibiotics.”

“We’ve also shown that the activity of Australian manuka honeys has remained unchanged over seven years from harvest, which has huge implications for extending the shelf life of medicinal honey products.”

Published in the scientific journal PLOS One, the research is part of a five year project funded by the Honey Bee & Pollination Program of the Australian government’s Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation.

Scientists from three different Australian universities, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sunshine Coast, and the University of Sydney are co-operating in doing the research.

However not everyone has welcomed the research findings, with New Zealand’s UMF Honey Association issuing a statement suggesting that one of the Australian scientists involved in the research has contradicted some of his previously reported statements.

UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) spokesperson John Rawcliffe said in the statement that “Australian researchers were doing what could only be described as a ‘flip flop’, in an effort to try and take ownership of the Mānuka honey name.”

Despite the fact that Australia has more than 80 different types of native manuka tree, the UMF association has claimed that only manuka honey produced from a sub-species that grows in New Zealand should be allowed to be marketed at manuka honey.

It has even lodged a trademark application for the name in both New Zealand and Australia.

Australian honey producers are however, opposing the move.

 

To view the research results online go to:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167780

For more information on the RRIDC honey bee & pollination program go to:

http://www.rirdc.gov.au/research-programs/animal-industries/honeybee