Is your milk richer for it?
The term ‘health drink' needs some explaining first. Malt-based beverages are what are popularly referred to as health drinks in India. These beverages enhance the taste of milk and are positioned as energy drinks with a nutritional thrust. Just as well, for the growing awareness around health food and beverages has meant a consistent boost for products in the ‘health and nutrition' segment. It also helps that companies keep adding to the variety of tastes and flavours. In view of the growing popularity of the ‘health drinks' segment overall, at Consumer Voice we took up eight brands for comparative testing – four brands were malt-based food and four were proprietary food including one high-protein proprietary food. We took particular note of the label declarations with regard to nutritional contents and other claims.
The national standards in India have spelled out various requirements for health drinks covering quality, safety and acceptability aspects. As per our standard procedure, we undertook market research to identify the popular and regularselling brands across the country. While the four proprietary brands – namely Ensure, Protinex, Complan and PediaSure – are not standardised under any regulations, there are safety and nutritional requirements that they need to fulfil.
The key parameters for which the health drinks were tested included energy value, protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, fat, moisture and acid- insoluble ash. It is a matter of some relief that none of the tested brands contained either trans fat or cholesterol. You may want to check your favoured brand for vitamins B3 and D, since the test results showed a considerable variation among the brands. The tests were conducted at an NABLaccredited laboratory and as per requirements specified in Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Regulations, 2011.
A major health-related parameter was microbiological safety. We conducted tests for 10 microbiological activities.