Insight - The Consumer Magazine (September-October 2005) has published the test findings of its in-house comparative product testing laboratory on 11 brands of processed cheese.
Cheese: 11 Brands Tested
In three categories of cheese — cubes, slices and spread — Insight recommends Amul as the best buy owing to high overall scores and low price. In blocks, Verka is the best and in pizza cheese the best buy is Britannia.
Price Vs Performance
The prices of 200 gm of cheese of different brands were compared with the overall score they obtained.
The results were an eye-opener. In some cases, the less expensive brand obtained the higher score. For instance, Amul cubes (200 gm) cost Rs 45 and obtained an overall score of 78 while the same quantity of Britannia cubes cost Rs 52 and obtained a score of 75.
No consumer should be made to pay for a quantity that he does not receive, even in a single pack, by even one gram.
While all Amul products were slightly above the labelled weight, all four samples of Britannia cubes and five out of six samples of Britannia cheese spread were underweight. The samples of cubes marked 200 gm weighed 191.35 gm, 193.45 gm, 193.20 gm and 195.65 gm.
High Sodium Content
A major finding of the tests was that all brands had high sodium content. Excess sodium is harmful to health as it causes high blood pressure.
As per a guideline by the UK Food Standards Agency, if a product contains more than 500 mg of sodium per 100 gm, the sodium content is high. Dairy-licious recorded the highest sodium content of 2270 mg per 100 gm, followed by Britannia cubes with 2135 mg, Britannia slice with 1963 mg and Amul cubes with 1947 mg. What is worrisome is that the labelled figure for sodium was much less than what the test found in some brands.
Seven panellists judged the cheese samples on the following criteria — appearance, uniform colour, texture and consistency, odour and flavour, defects and taste.
In cubes, Britannia scored the highest at 84, while in slices, Amul topped the list with 81 points. In blocks, Dairy-licious block was preferred to Verka with a score of 79, and in cheese spreads Britannia was preferred with a score of 85. Britannia also fared better than Amul in a separate test for spreadability on bread.
In the performance test for pizza cheese Amul scored the highest with 92 points. Dairy-licious scored 48 and Britannia obtained a score of 36.
The brands were tested for the amount of calcium and protein. Against the ICMR-recommended dietary intake of calcium of 800 mg a day for adults, calcium in mg per 100 gm of the product was the highest in Amul cubes at 903 mg, followed by 890 mg in Verka cheese block. Amul pizza cheese had the highest amount of protein (24 per cent of the weight), followed by Verka (21 per cent).
The brands were tested for moisture, milk fat, salt and sorbic acid as prescribed by the BIS. All the brands conformed to the standards set by BIS for moisture, milk fat and salt. In the case of sorbic acid, one brand, Dairy-licious did not conform recording a level of 0.2 per cent when the BIS limit was 0.1 per cent (1000 ppm i.e. parts per million). It, however, conformed to the more liberal limit set by the PFA Act of 3000 ppm.
At least 400 varieties of cheese are available worldwide called by 2,000 names? Did you know that for years parents have warned their children not to have cheese before bedtime to prevent bad dreams? Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? But the fact is that cheese not only aids sleep, but if you want varied dreams, choose from a delectable range before bedtime.
Have you ever wondered what to do if your cheese block has mould? When it comes to mould on normally-not-mouldy hard varieties of cheese, you need to cut away at least a one cm chunk under and around the mould because it may have penetrated farther in than you can see.
Do you have lactose intolerance and want to know whether you can have cheese? For the answer to this and other interesting facts look up our feature on cheese in the September-October 2005 issue of Insight. The feature also gives you tips on how to buy, store, cook and serve cheese.
As a policy, the test results are conveyed to all the manufacturers for their views and comments. All manufacturers receive the results of their own product only. Details of rating and ranking and excerpts of correspondence with the manufacturers have been published in the September-October 2005 issue of Insight.
Date: 26/10/2005Pritee Shah
Place: AhmedabadEditor - Insight
Annexure: Test Results of Processed Cheese
The brands of cheese were tested against the specifications of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, (A11.02.07.01,02) and the Bureau of Indian Standards — IS:2785-1979 (first revision) for chemical and IS:10281-1982 for sensory parameters. The weights were checked according to the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities ) Rules, 1977. The samples were checked for labelling requirements as per PFA Rule 32.
Eleven brands of processed cheese in five categories were tested — two brands of cheese cubes (Amul, Britannia), two of cheese slices (Amul, Britannia), two of cheese block (Verka, Dairy-licious), two of cheese spread (Amul, Britannia) and three of pizza cheese (Amul, Britannia and Dairy-licious).