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What’s in your biscuit?

June 12, 2008
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Biscuits

Biscuits (Cookies for Americans) are our daily bread but times have changed. We now know more about biscuits and what they contain. Ingredients in biscuits like hydrogenated vegetable oil aren’t good for us. Nor is refined sugar, refined flour or additives. That’s what most biscuits are made of, even the so-called “healthy” ones.

In this post I have examined a few biscuit brands from two companies – Britannia Industries (a multi-national) and Parle Products (an Indian company). I chose these two as they are giants in the biscuit market in India and well, I buy their biscuits.

Goodday from Britannia has the following ingredients: Wheat Flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, nuts (cashews and almonds), butter, milk solids, raising agents, salt, emulsifiers, synthetic food colour and artificial flavours.

Goodday ingredients
According to Indian law, manufacturers and marketers need not detail the exact percentages (or the exact amounts) of each ingredient. However, we can guess how much is present because the law stipulates that the ingredients have to be listed in descending order (the ingredient which is present in the greatest quantity is to be listed first). So, if wheat flour (which is white refined flour or maida) is listed first as in this case, it means that this is the major ingredient in the biscuit. This is followed by sugar and edible vegetable oil. Both refined flour and sugar (which form the bulk of the biscuit) are bad for our health. But luckily this biscuit does not contain hydrogenated vegetable fat which is unhealthy, but just vegetable oil, which means no transfats.

It’s said that naturally occurring transfat (found in dairy products and some meats) is not harmful (though more studies are underway to confirm this) but artificially produced transfats (produced when hydrogen gas reacts with oil) as in hydrogenated vegetable oils are extremely bad for health and are a factor in causing heart disease. This relationship has been proven beyond doubt.Goodday nutrition Info

Gooday also contains nuts, butter, milk solids, but they are present in tiny quantities and in any case all are highly processed. As such they are not as nutritious as they would be in their natural form. And then there are the additives and chemicals.

The good thing is that Britannia is one of the few biscuit companies in India which has started to give out nutrition information on its biscuit packs, although the relevant draft regulation of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (Amendment) which will make this compulsory in India will only be passed this October. I guess this is because Britannia is a multinational and it is compulsory in Europe and America.

The biscuit (per 100 gms) provides 23.5 gms of fat and the actual types of fat has been listed. As one could guess, no trans fat.

Britannia Marie is a biscuit that has been positioned as a tea-time biscuit. The ingredients are as follows: Wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, invert syrup, milk solids, raising agents, salt, emulsifiers, dough conditioner, permitted natural food colours and artificial flavours.

Marie ingredients

Hmm, looks like there is no transfat here either as there is an absence of hydrogenated oil. I confess I am a little surprised. It certainly has something to do with the fact that Britannia’s multinational stakeholder is Danone (headquarted in France) and in the EU now there is a growing awareness about the dangers of transfats and usage of transfats is being restricted. Plus, it is mandatory in the EU (as in the United States) to give out nutrition information.

Here is the nutrition information given on the pack (per 100 gms):

Marie nutrition info

As expected no transfats in Marie. And they have advertised the fact:

Marie Pack

Next is Britannia’s Cream Cracker which is positioned as a health biscuit. But is it really healthy? The ingredients are as follows: Wheat flour, edible vegetable oil, sugar, yeast, salt, milk solids, malt extract, emuslifiers and raising agents.

nutrichoice ingredients

Well, refined wheat flour (maida) which comprises almost 80 percent of the biscuit is certainly not healthy and therefore there is no way that this biscuit or any biscuit made from white refined flour can be healthy. However this biscuit has no hydrogenated fat, like the others.

nutrichoice nutrition

Britannia’s claim that this biscuit is healthy makes no sense! For one thing, the 79 percent cereal may be cereal but this “cereal” is nothing but maida (white refined flour) which is not healthy. And calling this biscuit ‘Pure Health’ is another misnomer. Even if this biscuit is more healthy than many others (fewer additives and no transfats) that does not justify this kind of labeling. They should just say zero transfat and leave it at that!

cream cracker pack

Pure Magic is another biscuit from Britannia Industries and here we come across the dreaded transfat, which must be present because of the cream in the biscuit. Here are the ingredients: Wheat Flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil/hydrogenated vegetable oils, cocoa solids, invert syrup, raising agents, salt, milk solids, starch and emulsifiers.

Pure magic ingredients1

Again, like in all biscuits the major ingredients are refined white flour and sugar followed by oils. Some of the oil used is hydrogenated and this is what results in transfats which is bad for health. Hydrogenated oils are the fourth most important ingredient in this biscuit. Unfortunately, this biscuit is usually consumed by children. Transfats can be specially bad for kids as children who grow up eating transfats have a tendency to get heart disease earlier than those who don’t. Here is the nutrition information on the pack:

Pure Magic Nutrition Info

The transfat is lower than I expected but well 2 gms or not, it’s still transfat and it’s still bad for health.

Hide & Seek from Parle Products is a similar biscuit, but it is not a cream biscuit. It is a chocolate chip one. Ingredients: Wheat flour, cocoa solids, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, invert syrup, leavening agents, salt, emulsifiers, dough conditioners.

hide and seek ingredients

I was shocked to discover that this biscuit, even though it does not contain cream, contains partially hydrogenated oils. The transfats must be much higher than most other biscuits as only hydrogenated oils have been used. However we have no way of knowing how much as the company has not bothered to give any nutrition information on the pack. They are getting away with it now as the law hasn’t yet come into effect. Anyway, it is a few months away and then they will have to. I don’t understand why the company hasn’t been responsible and done it already.

Even if you take another biscuit of Parle’s (Krackjack) there is no nutrition information. The ingredients present are: Wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil/ partially hydrogenated edible vegetable oils, leavening agents, invert syrup, salt, yeast, emuslifiers, acid regulators, milk solids and dough conditioners, and artificial flavours.

Krackjack ingredients

Here perhaps the transfats are lower (we have to guess!) as edible oil is used alongwith the partially hydrogenated oils.

Parle’s Glucose biscuit does have nutrition information given on it and that is probably because it is positioned as a “healthy” biscuit, but we already know that no biscuit made of white refined flour and with additives can be healthy. And what’s terrible is that this “healthy” biscuit contains hydrogenated fat. Here are the ingredients: Wheat flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated edible vegetable oil/ edible vegetable oils, invert syrup, leavening agents, baking powder, salt, milk solids, emuslifiers, dough conditioners, improvers (amylases and other enzymes) and artificial flavours. Now I wonder how this biscuit can be sold as a biscuit for children when it contains more hydrogenated oil than edible oil?

Glucose ingredients

Here is the nutrition information. There is no mention of transfat at all, just the total fat. How much transfat this biscuit contains is anybody’s guess. The biscuit seems to have some nominal amount of calcium but even then this biscuit isn’t for kids, that’s for sure.

Glucose nutrition info

Monaco is another biscuit of Parle’s which gives nutrition information. First the ingredients: Wheat flour, Edible vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated edible vegetable oils, sugar, leavening agents, invert syrup, salt, yeast, acid regulators, emuslifiers, dough conditioners, improvers (amylases and other enzymes) and artificial flavours. Here again you have hydrogenated oil, but it seems to be present in lesser quantity than in the glucose biscuits. Odd huh, considering that it’s the glucose biscuits which are aimed at kids?

Monaco ingredients

Here is the nutrition information but just the bare minimum is given.

Monaco nutrition information

It is also significant that biscuits such as these which proclaim themselves to be a “light” snack are not light. Just note the calories per 100 gms in this biscuit – over 500! This is higher than Britannia’s 495 calories for their goodday biscuits, and guess what – it has more energy/calories that Parle’s own glucose biscuit!!

Overall, all biscuits are of similar calorific value and Monaco will contain higher amounts of sodium as well.

Mcvites Hobnobs (oat and wholemeal biscuits) are an imported biscuit widely available in Mumbai. The ingredients: Rolled oats (38 percent), wholemeal flour which means Atta (23 percent), sugar, palm oil, glucose fructose syrp, raising agents, salt, gluten.


This is a nutritious biscuit. Perhaps I should compare this to Britannia’s Digestive biscuit, but I don’t like Britannia Digestive as it crumbles to pieces even before you put it in your mouth. And once I got a whole pack of burnt biscuits which the company did not bother to replace. I guess Britannia’s Digestive biscuit is made at least partially from whole-wheat flour and probably does not contain transfats but I did not want to buy it for this photo-shoot as I did not want to waste my money. Anyway, I think Mcvites hobnobs can be compared to all biscuits which claim to be a “healthy” choice.

What’s important is that Mcvite has now pledged to remove transfats from all its biscuit brands. This is the nutrition information on the hobnobs: They have given values per biscuit too, and one biscuit is 67 cal and 3.1g fat.

hobnobs nutritional information

The purpose of this post was to make us aware that manufacturers’ claims are almost always exaggerated and at times are outright lies.

Though I have not mentioned it here, don’t forget that bakery products (cookies, pastries) and fries contain significant amounts of transfats too unless they are made from (and/or fried in) pure ghee (clarified butter) or butter or non-hydrogenated edible oil. But as hydrogenated fat is inexpensive and also gives the product a longer shelf life, this is what manufacturers prefer to use.

To read more about the dangers of transfat you can try this site.

(All photographs are by me and copyrighted)

Related Reading: “Healthy” soups are not really healthy.
Vegetable and Dal noodles – are they healthy?
Dangers of GM food
Are we in India tackling the dangers of trans fats?
Cooking oils can contain toxins
Indian snacks can be as bad as western snack food
Children demand advertised products and parents don’t say no
The chemicals we consume in our everyday food
Ancient diets were the best
Poisons in our food packaging
Why noodles and other white flour products are unhealthy
Destruction of essential vitamins due to cooking
11 reasons why Indians are not healthy
Our moods are affected by what we eat
Packaging trick by Johnson and Johnson

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63 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2008 10:44 pm

    I am also concerned about the food color. At the end of the day it is an unnecessary chemical that serves no nutritional purpose and could well be carcinogenic, current research studies notwithstanding.

  2. June 12, 2008 11:08 pm

    In Canada (Ontario specifically) we have a program created by the heart & Stroke foundation that is supposed to look at all of the processed foods on our grocery shelves, evaluate them and then give the ‘approved’ foods their Healthcheck seal of approval – here’s the website – http://www.healthcheck.org/en/home/home.html

    Great – The health authorities are looking out for the little guy, right?

    No

    It turns out that if a manufacturer is willing to pay the Heart and Stroke foundation, they can get a healthcheck seal of approval on their product, regardless of what their produt is made of.

    So, it’s not just the manufacturers we can’t trust.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. June 12, 2008 11:10 pm

    I appreciate the amount of research u have done for this Nita. wow. very intersting.
    But the sad part is what wll I eat now. :( no biscuits, pizzas :(. is there anything healthy out there now? :(

  4. June 12, 2008 11:31 pm

    lol most of fav biscuits from the above mentioned brands aren’t good for me i guess…..i prefer brandman and anzac better…should see their info now i guess :)

  5. Tajbinder permalink
    June 13, 2008 12:22 am

    you mentioned elsewhere that we indians arent the exercising sorts and one of the reasons stated was our poverty.I was discussing this very point in a train and the argument got so bad that i almost got lynched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. June 13, 2008 1:00 am

    Wow!! excellent effort Nita…u sound like some MBA doing analysis but instead of abt marketing u have focussed on the authenticity of the companies’ claims. I stopped eating MARIE long time back since it started to taste like straw..seriously!! Used to like one with a smiley drawn on it and white cream layer inside..I have forgot the name.

  7. June 13, 2008 5:23 am

    Great post, Nita!
    What about my fave biskit: Milano?
    I have to have one Milano every day, now!
    I guess one of it should be around 60 calories, but may be more.

  8. June 13, 2008 7:26 am

    Lekhni, food colour is certainly carcinogenic but am not sure which studies you mean. In any case in India we use banned colours. 1) we use colours banned in developed countries. 2) small hotels use colours banned in India as well.

    DR, that is indeed sad to hear. I guess we can only trust ourselves these days.

    Xylene, how about the good old chappatti or pizzas made from a whole wheat base? You get healthy biscuits too, need to scout around. Anyway, it’s not possible to eliminate the unhealthy foods from our diet completely and as long as we don’t give it to our kids and ourselves eat them in small quantities, it doesn’t matter that much. Biscuits like glucose and milk bikis or chocolate biscuits should not be given regularly to children though, well certainly not to babies (people do this!)

    Vishesh, if this post has inspired you to check the ingredients of your biscuit I am happy! :)

    Tajbinder, I am not sure what you told them. But I had written this on one of my health posts here:

    A lot of these habits are the result of our past. As a nation we are rising from poverty. We were a deprived nation and today when someone comes into money he feels that to lie around and becoming fat is desirable. Many people believe that using a lot of oil in food is a sign of prosperity. Because as a nation we were always poor, and were forced to do hard labour, either in the fields or at home, we never developed a taste for sports.

    Reema, thanks. So you too have noticed that Marie has changed its taste! I though I was the only one! Yes you are right it tastes like straw now or sawdust now and now we buy parle marie or often, some imported biscuit.

    Rdoc, thanks.Milano? Hearing about it the first time. I guess must be imported but yeah, most biscuits are about 50-60 calories each.

  9. June 13, 2008 7:58 am

    Nita:
    Good effort, but you missed the bad guys: “saturated fats.”
    Most folks talk about Trans Fats, which is simply hydrogenated vegetable oils (think DALDA); But saturated usually come from animal products and are equally bad for you.
    Western countries would be lost without this saturated fat and thus don’t talk about it much.

    All the biscuits had a high level of saturated fats; a majority of the fat fraction was from saturated fats !!! I don’t know how the companies can call these biscuits healthy.

    I do eat britannia biscuits – and love them; but in moderation. If you have weight problems, or high cholesterol levels, I’d recommend they cut the biscuits out first! Or look for ones without ‘Saturated fats.”

    Keep up the good work and keep out the saturated fats!
    Live healthy!

  10. Ravi permalink
    June 13, 2008 8:15 am

    Tajbinder

    Apparently you have learned the lesson hard way…never ever argue with indians…cause we all know that the dishonesty, racism and corruption in india are the main reasons for the pathetic state of India (though some folks claim india is doing OK but OK is not good).

  11. Ravi permalink
    June 13, 2008 8:23 am

    Nita

    Im caught by surprise not because of the ill-will that biscuits carry but by my person experience with biscuits. When we were kids my mom used to avoid my bro and me from eating biscuits. I thought it was weird when she said that we got sick several times cause of eating biscuits. I bet she didnt know that biscuits are harmful due to their ingredients but she tought that biscuits didnt fit in our diet. After reading your article I get to know the reasons. Thanks for posting this informative article.

  12. June 13, 2008 8:39 am

    wow man, you are something! such through analysis. Well, being a medico i always knew that transfat is bad for health. But still sometimes when i am unable to prepare something nutritious for my kid, i simply pack 3-4 biscuits for her snack. Though, thank God i always prefered britania… but you made me feel guilty there :) think i should be more vigilant now onwards!

    Thank u so much for the information… really!

  13. June 13, 2008 10:19 am

    I did try making pizza in ma microwave and succeded. My wife did like it. :). except for the mess.

    I think like you said, cooking at home would be more healthy !

  14. vivek mittal permalink
    June 13, 2008 11:36 am

    I tried very hard to comment something on the topic but just cant :)

    I know what you mean. Even I like leaving valuable comments on blogs. :) Sharing a personal experience always works for me! But at the same time, there is no need to pressure oneself. Relax and enjoy the read, that’s all! :) – Nita.

  15. June 13, 2008 1:23 pm

    Hi!
    Like Xylene says, cooking at home may be more healthy!
    You can make biscuits, pizza (i’ve done it too!) with jus few ingredients
    and its much healthier than packed biscuits, which i dont like much really…
    But i know u need timeeeeeeee to do all this…and buy a pack of biscuits it takes seconds!
    busy lifeeeeeeeee…

    kisses

  16. June 13, 2008 3:56 pm

    Scary to say the least!

  17. June 13, 2008 5:45 pm

    Great article…in fact it’s interesting that in reading the labels many items used to make the biscuits we avoid using while making food in the house for our families but seem to overlook the same in prepackaged foods!!

  18. June 13, 2008 6:42 pm

    Wow! It sure is scary…!! The next time I open a pack of biscuits, I am going to be one heck of a scared kid!

  19. June 13, 2008 7:05 pm

    You have done a lot of research for this! Thanks for the valuable information, Nita.

    I’m not a fan of biscuits. I eat them only if I am hungry and nothing else is available :-|

  20. June 13, 2008 7:18 pm

    Thank you for your analytical mind and your effort.
    99% of the crowd out there will benefit from your post – If they read. If they care.
    The term “healthy” is over-used, misused, misinterpreted too commonly to expect a healthy society of us in years to come.

    Wayne and I DO NOT eat about 97% of foods from our dear marketplace.
    Awesome analysis and thank you again.
    Teresa

  21. June 13, 2008 7:26 pm

    Well, you have opened a whole new can of worms, I must say.
    Whilst I always read ingredients in all foods I buy that are ready made, being conscious that they need to be of vegetarian content for me, sometimes I put back a product, because I simply don’t know what the ingredient means.
    Mostly, I just make my own cake and biscuits as necessary, so that I canat least choose the basic ingredients.
    But thanks for your research.
    Beryl

  22. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 13, 2008 8:34 pm

    Good article and thanks! Thankfully, I have the luxury of making cookies (biscuits) at home with whole wheat flour and other healthy ingredients. I try my best usually not to succumb to buying or cooking unhealthy snacks for my kids.
    I hope we start getting healthy/organic foods in Indian markets.

  23. June 13, 2008 8:54 pm

    Arun, as you said saturated fats aren’t good for health either, but then I think if eaten in small amounts, where they are found naturally, is okay. As long as one is healthy and active ofcourse!

    Ravi, your mother was a wise lady! I think many of the older generation are well aware of the dangers of processed foods.

    Xylene, I cook two meals at home. It’s time consuming but I think that cooking is as important as any management or high flier job, in fact more as in the long term our life can depend on it.

    Vivek, I have answered your comment in the comment itself.

    Francina, yeah, it’s not possible to give up the junk completely! Striking that balance is so important!

    Sakhi, you are welcome.

    Nikhil N, Harry :)

    Jennifer
    , I think we prefer to ignore the labels don’t we! I mean, they are in such small print we aren’t even conscious of it. I wonder if they should make the ingredients in bold and large print, then perhaps we will become more conscious of it! I feel a day will come when it will be made compulsory to do this.

    Raj, don’t like biscuits and cookies huh. I assume not cakes and pastries either. I wish I didn’t!

    dynamicteresa18171817 (Teresa)
    , thanks. I get really annoyed when I see the word ‘healthy’ on unhealthy foods! And as you said, we humans are rapidly becoming unhealthier.

    wishtobeanon
    , thanks for reading. great to hear that you take the trouble. I do these things in fits and starts…

  24. Tajbinder permalink
    June 14, 2008 12:36 am

    Nita what i discussed with them was very much similiar to what u stated.Adressing the core or real issue is a no no in our country.It even amounts to treason-the british legacy carried on by our politicians.We just cannot accept our shortcomings.i am a lean built person and my grandfather asked my mother to feed me lots of ghee and makhan and what not. You can imagine the state of my digestive system subsequently. Similarly, we dont exercise after having such diet and why not, an ordinary indian is bogged down making ends meet .He actually doesnt have time or the energy to exercise.Though i think there has been a stark change in this trend in the metros. It takes an Amitabh Bachchan to spread awareness about polio drops otherwise it just doesnt work.
    Hope you got my point.

  25. Tajbinder permalink
    June 14, 2008 12:39 am

    From what i can recollect they must have thought that i was cursing their beliefs or traditions rather than realising the fact that i was just highlighting our shortcomings and causes.

  26. vivek mittal permalink
    June 14, 2008 9:21 am

    am not sure what’s the difference between biscuits and cookies …but believe in the US they call it “cookies” and in UK “biscuits”….

  27. June 14, 2008 12:19 pm

    You don’t know Milano biscuits? They are the best Indian biscuits EVER, bar the solitary exception of the fruit biscuits from Karachi Bakery, Hyderabad.
    When you eat these, don’t analyse. Just eat one. Only one. This, to be successful, needs advanced and sophisticated mind-control techniques that I normally charge an arm and a leg to reveal. For your readers, here it is, free:
    Take one biscuit on a nice, small plate. A big plate is a no-no, as it makes the biscuit look small. Look, feel and smell the biscuit. After a thorough inspection as above, take a small bite from the edge, and look at the choc chips in the substance of the biscuit. Then close your eyes and, as you chew, savor the favors of the chocolate. Continue till end.
    Then grab the next one…. the way the cookie crumbles! ;-)

  28. June 14, 2008 1:01 pm

    Great work. I will think twice before reaching for that biscuit next Time we start thinking a bit more about what goes into our mouth.

  29. June 16, 2008 7:35 am

    Tajbinder, true, in our country we tend to feel that a person needs to be plump to be healthy! And another good point – we guys work very hard, and are not lucky enough to have the 5 days week or the4-5 day week that many in developed countries have.

    Vivek M, I too am not sure! Perhaps cookies are richer

    Rdoc, yesterday when I was out grocery shopping I did see this biscuit Milano, and pick it up and then my daughter told me she knows that biscuit pretty well and has in fact bought it!! Well, I guess the umbrella brand is hide&seek. In our house all of us eat different types of biscuits and my favourite are cream crackers and digestive biscuits. I prefer to eat plain milk chocolate, but don’t much like chocolate biscuits.

    Usha, thanks.

  30. Gaurav Purohit permalink
    June 26, 2008 10:38 am

    Hey Nita,

    your article is quite, stumbled acrss while searching for data on brit marie. with the ways facts are..i am a bit confused, a 370 gm pack og brit marie has 60 biscuits, whihc translates to ~ 1600 Kcal (assuming 100 gm = 434 cal).

    that means each brit marie bsicuit has more than 2600o calories (assuming 1 Kcal= 1000 calories).

    an avg male needs ~2100 cal and female needs ~ 1700 calories.

    have a feeling that my estimations have an error. But if these estimation are right then biscuits are basically lumps of fat:).

    If you spot an error please do email me or put a note out here.

    thanks
    gaurav

    Gaurav, 1Kcal is just one calorie so don’t worry! – Nita.

  31. sashi permalink
    June 30, 2008 4:32 pm

    very useful information about food products that we habitually pick and eat without any concern about dietary values. ON the issue of transfat free, would be useful if you compare sunfeast (ITC) vs britannia, because sunfeast still has hydrogenated veg oil in its ingredients be it for sunfeast marie or other biscuits, and is yet to have the transfat free tag…

    keep up the good work..

  32. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 20, 2008 11:58 pm

    Extremely useful information! You deserve our congratulations. I am surprised to see that in the villages around the place where I live the usual morning breakfast consists of Tea and biscuits like kharis, Glucose, Monacos etc. And this in a place well-known for its nutritious Pohe! But an Ayurvedic practitioner here makes protien biscuits at home out of whole-wheat, bajara, jowar, nachani, rice and such mixtures. They are extremely healthy and tasty too. I’ll supply the list of constituents within a couple of days.

  33. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 21, 2008 6:28 am

    Nita,

    In the interest of promoting scientific awareness and temper, your explanation to Gaurav could have been slightly more detailed, without getting too technical. In physics a calorie is the amount of heat used in raising the temperature one gram of water by 1 degree Celsisus. It is abbreviated as ‘cal.’ (with a lowercase ‘c’ and is also called a gram-calorie or a small calorie.

    A thousand such calories make up the kilocalorie (‘kcal.’, with a lowercase ‘k’, not capital), the traditional unit of the body’s metabolic rate, which is also the nutritionist’s ‘Calorie’ (abbreviated as ‘Cal.’ with a capital ‘C’), or large calorie. Its equivalent in electric energy terms is 4.2 kilojoules (kJ).

    The precise definitions are more fine-tuned than what I have given above, an can be found in any good scientific reference work.

    In light of all the above, your statement to Gaurav should have read “…1 kcal is just one Calorie…” (with capital and lowercase reversed) :-)

  34. August 29, 2008 1:11 pm

    Do you know if there is any obligation for the nutritional information on the chocolat products (like the tablet or some chocolate bonbons…)?
    Thank you for advance for your answer.

  35. surya permalink
    August 29, 2008 4:05 pm

    dear Nita,
    that was an excellent article.. I work in the area of health and can you mail me to my id provided if you are interested in talking and doing little more on these issues..thanks

    thanks surya, but actually I am just a writer. – nita.

  36. Anonymous permalink
    November 8, 2008 3:18 am

    I enjoyed reading through your posts… they are well researched and finely presented!

    On the concept of health food, you must also be looking out for gluten/mono sodium glutamate which on frequent consumption has proven to cause damage to the brain. Gluten is found is almost all ready to eat soups, noodles, biscuits, flovoring cubes of Maggi, knorr etc…

  37. December 11, 2008 11:46 pm

    I came by looking to find out whether digestive biscuits are healthier than regular biscuits, as their name suggests. (The label says ‘NutriChoice’!) I buy Britannia’s digestive as I’m on a student budget and the extra five or ten bucks for McVitie’s adds up over 30 days. Britannia is also more easily available in my neighbourhood.

    Great post, though– was exactly what I was looking for. Shame that Britannia digestives weren’t covered :)

    • December 12, 2008 10:26 am

      Perakath, I used to eat Brittania Digestives but somehow preferred Mcvites for the taste and texture. Health wise I trust Mcvites more as the law in the UK would be more strict than here and I do know that they use a better quality flour. Also if you check the ingredients on the Digestive you will get a fair idea of whether the biscuit is what it says. Unfortunately I do not have a pack with me right now. See which ingredient is the maximum, how much fibre there is. Also added fibre according to me is less effective than whole wheat flour. Also we do not know what manufacturers mean in India by saying whole wheat flour as there is no definition as to how fine it should be. Overall, I am suspicious. Have you tried the Brittannia Multi-grain? I like the taste and texture better than McVites because it is less sweet. In fact of late I am consuming the Brittannia Multi-grains as they are cheaper than the Mcvites and also tastier. They seem genuine to me from the ingredients too.

      • ACHALA permalink
        October 18, 2009 5:33 pm

        Nice work, i must say this since i am a student of nutrition and food processing i do understand what u want to say but mam there is also other things/ fields in which people have to be aware like types of oils and their uses, amount, blends,etc.

        • April 16, 2011 12:45 pm

          with everything present one must also be cared if the product is veg or not achala as they are giving a green mark if the item is not veg.We dont even know that we are eating pigs cherby

  38. yogi permalink
    March 25, 2009 12:50 am

    good information . Can you explain something about Parle Digestive Marie buiscuits

    I would advise you to scrutinize the ingredients and you will be able to reach a conclusion. – Nita.

  39. Rafael permalink
    June 27, 2009 2:32 am

    I was in India in 2007, and i felt in love with those hide and seek biscuits… didn’t knew they’re so bad for our health… But has been a long time that i don’t eat cookies…

  40. February 1, 2010 3:54 pm

    hey nita,
    its a great thing to have an insight on all the biscuits we gorge on ..
    i had a packet of krackjack taking them to be max of 200 calories but then reading ur site, i was almost taken aback
    thanks nita :-) for making us realize what we r eating isnt all that healthy

  41. Alok permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:13 pm

    Could you pl tell how much salt NaCl a 100gm monaco biscuits would contain. The information it appears is suppressed by the Parle.

    Alok, the actual quantity of salt or other ingredients are not mandatory to be published according to Indian Law. Therefore we are helpless. But you can bet that the salt is too high. All commercial products contain way too much salt. – Nita

  42. Alok permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:20 pm

    In any case pl beware that all the sweet biscuits are very high in sugar content. A normal one glucose biscuit of 10gm will contain almost 7-8gm carbohydrate i.e. by and large sugar. Thus by having one biscuit you have consumed one cup of tea with 7-8 gm sugar, that directly adds to your weight.
    One biscuit per day can add 35-40 kg weight in a year. Avoid dry eatables as they contain very high sugar or salt content.

  43. December 26, 2010 6:25 pm

    As a thumb rule, it’s good to stay clear of processed foods: biscuits, potato chips, colas — all these junk items happen to be loaded with waste calories and make you feel guilty when you’re munching on them, “Wait..I don’t need the oil, grease and empty calories just to please those greedy taste buds”….Good job, Nita.

    The key here is to be responsible when enjoying any of these products. Anything done in moderation won’t affect your health plan…not by that much at least. A case in point, many times when I tried to publicly enjoy an occasional cigarette, non-smokers gathered around to guilt-trip me ….”smoking is bad for you”….”do you have a suicide wish?”…..Some excessive do-gooders have gone to the extent of seizing my cigarette in a brazen manner and destroying it.

    Now’s the time for me to turn the tables back on the smoke Nazis with the help of your article, “sweetheart, at least I don’t fill my stomach with the junk you call FOOD” :)

    Conversely, just as the government is adamant on guilt-tripping smokers by enacting tough anti-smoking laws (before 2007, it was possible to enjoy your cigarette in an indoors space), why don’t they use the same scare-mongering tactics on junk food consumption. It really saddens me to see children gorging on pizzas, burgers, corn-flakes, ready-made soups and all the trash which is openly advertised and promoted as nutritionally healthy. Why is there no such labelling in place for these items?

  44. January 2, 2011 10:15 pm

    What is “edible oil”? Cotton seed oil? Why can’t the companies list what the oil is? If it is a mixture or several oils, list out all of them. Anyway something that is so highly processed, and baked at high temperatures, can’t be good even in moderation.

  45. shashank nabar permalink
    January 13, 2011 4:17 pm

    I came across your blogspot while I was searching for something. I’m happy you have taken such a lot of trouble to explain how to read the packing data! I’ve added it onto FB since I did not come across if you already have. Can you also throw light on breads available? Especially since the brown bread seems more of color (caramel) than real health. Probably, Anjali Mukherji’s is better?

    Shashank, it’s best to buy whole wheat bread, not brown and that too from well known bakeries like say Gaylords near churchgate. Or perhaps from the Taj bakery. You can easily make out a bread that is made from atta, because it will not be soft. Forget Anjali Mukherjee. I do not find her products that good. – Nita

  46. Deepika Bharti permalink
    June 11, 2011 1:56 pm

    comendable effort must say…….well done Ms Nita
    By the way youre a nurtitionist or a food technologist given your way of analysis you do seem like a professional…..
    ..

    keep up the good job any way,,,

    Deepika

    Thanks Deepika. I am a professional journalist and do my homework before writing. – Nita

  47. April 2, 2012 7:22 pm

    I am wondering if 5 Grain are made of whole wheat or NOT ??

    • April 2, 2012 7:51 pm

      kv, you need to check the ingredients. the ingredient which is listed first is the highest in quantity and the ingredient which is last is the least in quantity. Remember that the difference in quantity between the first and second ingredient can be substantial as by law the marketers are not required to list the percentages.

  48. Nitin Reddy Katkam permalink
    April 6, 2012 7:49 am

    Some cookies contain eggs – when you pick up a pack of butter cookies, check the list of ingredients for any mention of eggs, if you are vegetarian.

  49. sachin permalink
    October 8, 2012 8:33 pm

    So, should I understand that the above given biscuits brands are are strictly non veg

  50. praduman permalink
    April 3, 2013 8:09 pm

    sirs whwther trhese b iscuits are eggless

  51. November 13, 2013 10:00 am

    Nita lovely lovely post… A very good analysis… I am working on sweets and put together a blog called itiriti. I would love to get in touch with you over mail on this

  52. November 13, 2013 10:01 am

    Lovely post! Very good analysis…

  53. Paresh permalink
    April 20, 2014 5:17 pm

    Hi…..does anyone know how to make Glucose biscuits at home?

  54. Holmes 007 permalink
    April 23, 2014 8:04 pm

    Very useful analysis .. please keep up the good work by reviewing other Indian food brands as well.

  55. breeks menon permalink
    November 6, 2014 1:51 pm

    biscuits are good, tasty , not bothered good or bad for health

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