An Explanation of MGO, UMF and TA
(1) MGO stands for methylglyoxal, a substance that is naturally present in New Zealand manuka honey. However, it can be added to counterfeit manuka and still be registered as a compound present in the honey. Methylglyoxal gives manuka honey its antibacterial properties. An MGO rating is a standardized measure of methyglyoxal content and is an indicator of quality.
(2) UMF is an acronym meaning Unique Manuka Factor. UMF is a complete and advanced grading system. It incorporates the measurement of methylglyoxal(MGO) levels, but also includes additional testing of authenticity markers of the manuka Honey. This includes dihydroxyacetone and leptosperin. UMF is an indicator of quality and purity of manuka honey.
In short, UMF is a complete, advanced grading system, it is a purer indicator; but MGO is simpler and more straightforward to test.
(3) TA stands for Total Activity and is a method of rating measured with the anti-microbial quality of honeys produced from Western Australia; the higher the TA, the greater the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial strength. The anti-bacterial activity of honey is derived via natural enzymes and chemicals in the honey. Any honey with a TA greater than 10+ may have beneficial anti-microbial properties and these properties are more effective as the TA level increases.
In contrast to MGO and UMF, TA rating is a measure of both Peroxide Activity (PA) as well as Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA). MGO ratings refer to Methylglyoxal and is a measurement of only NPA found in manuka honey. While UMF includes dihydroxyacetone and leptosperin regarded as tests on purity, it is still a part of NPA.
The term MGO or UMF appearing on the labels of manuka honey and TA on honeys from Western Australia puzzle a lot of consumers. However, from a scientific point of view, theses terms are comparable.
* MGO is measured as mg/kg (ppm)
Examples of how to read this table:
UMF/TA 15+ honey has a minimum MGO 514.
MGO 300 honey would be rated UMF/TA 10+.
MGO 550 honey would be rated UMF/TA 15+.
UMF 20+ honey has a minimum MGO 829.