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The objective of the book is to explain everything about money 

 

“Money is the root...

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GlaxoSmithKline's manipulative hype in repositioning Horlicks in India

This TV commercial is about GSK's attempt at re-positioning their brand Horlicks in India. The TVC claims boiling milk diminishes vitamins A, B and Folic acid content in it and therefore you should add Horlicks to milk in order to make good the loss



The above TV commercial (TVC) for Horlicks, promoted by GSK Consumer Healthcare (GSK), lasts 17 seconds, shows a stressed out mother yelling at her son in the morning uttering:
 

“Utho! Utho! Doodh bhi toh peena hai!” (Get up! Get up! You have to drink your milk as well!)
 

Meanwhile, the milk is on the verge of boiling over the mother rushes in the nick of time to turn off the gas to prevent this from happening.)
 

A male voice then announces:
 

“Doodh ko to bacha liya, par uska poshan? Doodh ubalney sey kahi jaroori nutrients 25% tak kum ho jaate hein. Isiliye Horlicks! Jo doodh ka poshan lowtaane mein madad kare aur ushey badhaye bhi!” (You have prevented the milk from boiling over, but what about its nutrition? By boiling milk many of its vital nutrients get diminished by around 25%.  Hence, Horlicks! Horlicks makes up for this diminished nutrition in boiled milk; in fact it enhances its nutritional value!)
 

The background shows a histogram, which appears 9 seconds into the TVC and lasts 5 seconds long. It presumably portrays the diminished quantities of micronutrients Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Folic acid in boiled milk.
 

A female voice (presumably the mother) then speaks:
 

Ubalne kay baad doodh mein Horlicks milao.” (After boiling, add Horlicks in milk)
 

A child's voice (presumably the mother's school-going son) then interjects:
 

Doodh ki shakti badhao! (Implying Horlicks increases the nutritional power of milk)
 

This Horlicks TVC trivializes the very significant act of boiling milk before consuming by unnecessarily dramatising micronutrient loss. In India, we have a tradition for boiling milk and then consuming it since ancient times and this habit is based on good reasoning.
 

According to Livestrong.com, “Food safety is the primary reason for boiling milk. Milk boils at a temperature at or above the boiling point of water depending on the milk's fat and sugar content and the elevation at which the boiling occurs. This boiling temperature kills any bacteria and other microorganisms that may be in the milk.
Before the advent of pasteurization, milk-borne illnesses like tuberculosis, diphtheria and typhoid routinely killed many people, especially children, in regions of Europe where milk was consumed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). Mothers would boil milk to make it safer for their children to drink. Raw milk today may harbor E.coli, salmonella and other harmful bacteria that would be destroyed by boiling at home before serving. Modern pasteurisation methods heat milk near to boiling for brief periods of time then cool it rapidly to minimize disruption of flavor and nutritional components, according to Ohio State University. However, people in many areas of the world do not have regular access to pasteurized milk, and home boiling remains a valuable method of assuring dairy food safety.”
 

Also, the CDCP further states, “Many studies have shown that pasteurisation does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk – pasteurised milk is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Heat slightly affects a few of the vitamins found in milk—thiamine, vitamin B12, and vitamin C—but milk is only a minor source of these vitamins.
 

The present Horlicks TVC broadcast on national television, particularly on Sony TV, during the Indian Idol Junior contest, appears to insidiously promote a trend of raw consumption of milk. It does this by dramatically overemphasising the supposedly significant loss of certain 'micronutrients' (vitamin A, vitamin B and Folic acid) to the extent of 25% due to boiling of milk. The fact that folic acid (vitamin B9) also belongs to the family of vitamin B seems to have escaped the minds of those who made this TVC!
 

Now milk is consumed primarily as a source of valuable macronutrients belonging to all the three groups: proteins (casein and whey proteins), a wide variety of healthy fats (C4-butyric acid to C20 arachidic acid, CLA-conjugated linoleic acid, MUFA and PUFA) and carbohydrate (lactose which is a disaccharide of glucose and galactose). As a primary food, milk is foremost a provider of macronutrients to weaned infants, children, adults, sportspersons, physical culturists, and convalescing patients. 
 

Vitamins are ubiquitous across various food groups in nature and milk is not exactly known as a vitamin powerhouse but rather as a provider of quality macronutrients, especially proteins and fats. Milk proteins are the best form of proteins according to National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. A glance across any bodybuilding, strength training or athletics magazines will show you advertisements of muscle building formulations primarily containing either whey or casein proteins, both derived from milk. If micronutrients are your need, the significant food substances that should be on your plate, are foremost green as well as colored vegetables (leafy and root), fruits, beans (especially sprouted) and lentils. Consuming these in adequate quantities will more than make for the deficiency of nutrition in relation to vitamins A, B and folic acid, more that anyone might suffer on account of boiling of milk as GSK puts it in their Horlicks TVC!
 

The table below shows how GSK compromises the nutritional value of its brand Horlicks by reducing its micronutrient value in smaller packs; targeted at the bottom of the consumer pyramid—poorest socio-economic group.
 

HORLICKS MICRONUTRIENT VARIATION (REDUCTION) ACROSS PACK SIZES

Micronutrients

Milk (cow’s whole milk)

Horlicks

Per 100gms

500gms &200gms pack

Per 100gms

80gms pack

Per 100gms

10gms pack*

Per 100gms­­

Vitamin A

30 mcgms

741mcgms

741mcgms

741mcgms

Vitamin B family:

 

 

 

 

B1 Thiamine

0.044mg

2.0mgs

1.3mgs (35% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)

1.3mgs (35% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)

B2 Riboflavin

0.183mg

3.0mgs

3.0mgs

2.96mgs (1.4% less than in the 500gms formulation)

B3 Niacin

0.1069mg

22mgs

16.7mgs (24% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)

16.7mgs (24% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)

B5 Pantothenic acid

0.361mg

4.0mgs

none

None

B6 Pyridoxine

0.036mg

4.0mgs

3.7mgs (7.5% less than  in the 500gms pack formulation)

3.7mgs (7.5% less than  in the 500gms pack formulation)

B9 Folic acid

5 to 10 mcgms

370mcgs

370mcgs

370mcgs

B12 Cyanocobalamin

0.44 mcgm

4.0mcgms

1.9mcgms (52.5% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)

1.85mcgs (53.75% less than in the 500gms pack formulation)


*The 10gms pack of  Horlicks is both an irrational pack size and formulation both from the point of view of nutritional quality as well as quantity. GSK itself states on the 80gms commercial pack under the tagline “My perfect cup of Horlicks!” to add 3 heaped teaspoonful’s (27g) of Horlicks to 200 ml of milk and “as much sugar” as one likes! Never mind the fact that 27gms of Horlicks contains 8gms of sugar! HORLICKS NUTRITIONAL QUALITY DIMINISHES AS THE PACK SIZE DECREASES!
 

Please note, that I have mentioned just vitamin A and those of the B family because these were being overemphasised in the “Doodh ki Shakti badhao” Horlicks TVC. But, as a matter of fact, even vitamin D and biotin are in diminished quantities as the Horlicks pack size becomes smaller.
 

Even in case of the primarily important macronutrients, GSK compromises the nutritional value of Horlicks by reducing its macronutrient value in smaller packs. The table below illustrates this point:
 

HORLICKS MACRONUTRIENT VARIATION (REDUCTION) ACROSS PACK SIZES
 

 

HORLICKS COMMERCIALLY SOLD PACKS

Macronutrients

500gms

80gms

10gms*

Malted Barley (extracted solids)

40%

18% (reduction of 55% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

18% (reduction of 55% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

Milk solids

14%

9% (reduction of 35.71% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

8.6% (reduction of 38.57% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

Wheat flour

27%

32% (increase of 18.51% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

32% (increase of 18.51% from the macronutrient content in the 500gms pack)

Observation: Macronutritionally significant and proteinaceous elements such as malted barley and milk extracts reduce significantly as the Horlicks pack size reduces from 500gms to 10gms!  Wheat flour a lesser quality macronutrient in comparison to milk and malted barley extracts increases in the Horlicks formulation when the pack size reduces from 500gms to 10gms.

 

*The 10gms pack of  Horlicks is both an irrational pack size and formulation both from the point of view of nutritional quality as well as quantity. GSK itself states on the 80gms commercial pack under the tagline “My perfect cup of Horlicks!” to add 3 heaped teaspoonful’s (27g) of Horlicks to 200 ml of milk and “as much sugar” as one likes! Never mind the fact that 27gms of Horlicks contains 8gms of sugar! HORLICKS NUTRITIONAL QUALITY DIMINISHES AS THE PACK SIZE DECREASES!

 

 

 

VITAMIN RDIs AND HORLICKS CONSUMPTION, A TABULAR STUDY:
 

Micronutrients as per Horlicks TVC

RDI(recommended Daily Intakes)*

Micronutrient addition due to milk due to 27g (3 heaped teaspoons) of Horlicks to 200ml of milk#

Vitamin A

Adults:690 to 900 mcgms

Children: 300 mcgms

200 mcgms

Vitamin B family:

 

 

B1 Thiamine

Children: 0.5 to 0.9mg

Adults: 1 to 1.4mgs

0.54 mg

B2 Riboflavin

Children: 0.5 to 0.9mg

Adults: 1 to 1.4mgs

0.81 mgs

B3 Niacin

Children: 6.0 to 12.0mgs

Adults: 16 to 18.0mgs

5.94 mgs

B5 Pantothenic acid

Children: 2.0 to 4.0mgs

Adults: 5 to 7.0mgs

1.08 mgs

B6 Pyridoxine

Children: 0.5 to 1.0mgs

Adults: 1.3 to 2.0mgs

1.08 mgs

B9 Folic acid

Children: 150 to 300 mcgms

Adults: 400 to 1000 mcgms

19.9 mcgms

B12 Cyanocobalamin

Children: 0.9 to 2.4mcgms

Adults: 2.4 to 2.8mcgms

1.08 mcgms


# 80gms pack and the irrational 10gms packs of commercially sold Horlicks are micronutritionally as well as macronutritionally very deficient as compared to the 500gms pack and if one were to rely on them for one’s RDI then the economic loss to him or her would be that much more!
 

As can be seen the addition of 27gms of Horlicks to 200ml of boiled milk contributes only to a small percentage of  micronutrient RDIs.
 

* From Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
 

Horlicks has been positioned or perceived as bedtime hot milk drink in the country of its origin, United Kingdom, for a major part of its existence, for over 135 years.  In India, the same brand with no remarkable difference in composition from its UK counterpart is projected as a remarkable nourishment provider, which promotes growth, attention and concentration in children of school-going age. Outside of India, in more consumer-aware and well regulated societies of Asia like in Malaysia and Singapore, GSK does not make any manipulative claims regarding Horlicks as it does in India and its immediate neighborhoods. Given below is a photograph of Horlicks poster from Malaysia which is devoid of any tall claims.  
 

In fact, when GSK’s India-based Horlicks advertisement making claims of five signs of growth was broadcast by a Nepali TV channel in the UK, it was monitored and UK regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), took serious objections on the claims made by GSK. GSK was quick to offer an explanation that the claims were meant only for children of this part of the world (Indian subcontinent) and were not applicable to children in UK!
 

Now, macronutrients (fat+protein+carbohydrate) together constitute 11.3% in cow’s milk and 15.8% in buffalo milk.  If micronutrients are the only criterion, then it is better to consume a rational multivitamin formulation with a glass of 200 ml of cow or buffalo milk. Even if you consider macronutrient groups, Horlicks formulation does not enhance the macronutrient profile of milk by much. As a matter of fact, consuming buffalo milk with fortified multivitamin capsule works out even better both in terms of cost-effectiveness and micronutrient requirements than with added Horlicks. Further, if flavor is a consideration then one can easily add readily available flavors to just plain milk whether buffalo or cow to suit one’s taste.
 

In conclusion, GSK Consumer Healthcare violates ethics and consumer rights first by making manipulative as well as misrepresentative claims through the medium of television commercials and then by compromising upon Horlicks formulation both in terms of quantity as well as quality of macro as well as micronutrients in relation to reducing pack sizes and thus peddling inferior and even irrational products. 

GSK itself states on its 80gms Horlicks commercially available pack under the tagline “My perfect cup of Horlicks!” to add 3 heaped teaspoonful (27g) of Horlicks to 200 ml of milk and “as much sugar” as one likes! Never mind the fact that 27gms of Horlicks contains 8gms of sugar!
 

Mounting medical research globally, since the last two decades, shows sugar as an etiological factor in a host of metabolic diseases, which impinge upon the quality of human life; many governments across the world have started taking note of sugar as a reason behind the world’s obesity problem.  Many scientists also suggest the curbing or regulation of sugar intake and even advocate regulating it along the lines of tobacco and alcohol for sugar is a chronic metabolic toxin. Yet GSK encourages its consumption because its malted beverages taste better with sugar!  
 

You may also want to read…
 

Sweet Idols-Part 1: Are you eating more sugar than required?

 

Sugar Idols-Part2: How celebrities promote harmful sugary foods
 

(Dr Arvind Shenoy is an MSc (Organic Chemistry) and PhD in Biochemistry from UDCT, Mumbai. He has 43 years of experience in the analysis, R&D and marketing of foods, organic and inorganic chemicals, plastics, rubber, paper, textiles, waxes, leather, pharmaceuticals, etc. Dr Shenoy, the researcher of consumer products is also Chairman of Centre for Sustainable Development, Mumbai.)

User

COMMENTS

basant gupta

3 years ago

Thank you for such an interesting article.A show cause notice nas been issued to the company today by me as a Food Safety Officer Food Safety & Drug Administration Deoria Uttar Pradesh for violation of section 24 of the Food Safety & Standard act,2006 which is punishable under section 53 of the same Act.If found guilty the company will be fined for upto ten lakhs .The company has been directed by me to stop airing The TVC further until the enquiry is completed.

Sank ramu

3 years ago

Quite well written article; the analysis makes me more aware of corporate science (kind of a pseudo science).
Grateful to the author!

Sadanand Patwardhan

3 years ago

Excellent analysis that has zeroed down to machinations of Multinationals to the finest details.

Sadnand Patwardhan
http://searchlight-is-on.blogspot.in/

murthypgk

3 years ago

The authour,being reputed and knowledgeble,refer the matter of deficiencies,to the concerned regulatory authourities and drug regulators and food ministry.regards
pgk murthy,hyderabad

S K Gupta

3 years ago

"Ethics and Consumer Rights" Ko Ghor Kar Horlicks Kay Sath Pena Aur Pilane Ki Abb Parampara Chal Chuki Hai.

jaideep shirali

3 years ago

Quite in line with the behaviour of MNCs in India. Glaxo had been caught releasing expired drugs through a scrap dealer, nothing came of it. HUL washing soaps contain no lime, yet they still say "100 limbuon ki shakti" with a fine print which I challenge their Chairman to read in a TV ad. Lifebuoy supposedly saves you from infections, must be under test conditions !! Dettol soaps are of more cosmetic value than medicinal use. As for the fair and lovely creams, all these MNCs would have been sued and forced to stop sales of these products. This is trying to influence consumers to thick only fair people matter, not the brains or attitudes. In India, with a corrupt administration, anything can be sold, any claims made.

REPLY

basant gupta

In Reply to jaideep shirali 3 years ago

A show cause notice nas been issued to the company today by me as a Food Safety Officer Food Safety & Drug Administration Deoria Uttar Pradesh for violation of section 24 of the Food Safety & Standard act,2006 which is punishable under section 53 of the same Act.If found guilty the company will be fined for upto ten lakhs .

sivasankaran

3 years ago

SIR,
WELL DONE.WILL THE AUTHORITIES LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION?

REPLY

basant gupta

In Reply to sivasankaran 3 years ago

A show cause notice nas been issued to the company today by me as a Food Safety Officer Food Safety & Drug Administration Deoria Uttar Pradesh for violation of section 24 of the Food Safety & Standard act,2006 which is punishable under section 53 of the same Act.If found guilty the company will be fined for upto ten lakhs .

Padmaja Vasireddy

3 years ago

Kudos and excellent write ups Dr. Shenoy. And many thanks for getting into lime lights. As a Nutritionist I am on your side.

Harish

3 years ago

Fantastic Work, Hats off for the writer

dilip mody

3 years ago

Very well written article.This ad should be immediately banned as it plays with the heath of children

Ajit Kushwaha

3 years ago

Good story covered by moneylife. Good work. Keep it up.

Rakesh Tripathi

3 years ago

Informative article on deteriorating advertising standards. Isn't this something that would fall within the ambit of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) ?

Narendra Doshi

3 years ago

Dr. Shenoy,
Very well analyzed and argued. Kudos.
Pl clarify:
1) Is milk really necessary for anyone above two year olds?
2) Milk contains items similar to cancerous elements and people have written books entitled 'Milk is poison" etc. What is your expert comments on this?
3) Vegan food eaters don't include any milk or any derivatives thereof and also any oil. Pl give your detailed explanation.
I had attended one of your demo sessions at Moneylife , few months ago, on milk adulteration and had thoroughly enjoyed it.

DEEPAK KHEMANI

3 years ago

Which Govt. Dept. will take a stand against these giant MNC's?
In India Companies can get away with almost anything in their advertisements. Ads for fairness creams and surrogate ads for liquor companies are prime examples.

REPLY

basant gupta

In Reply to DEEPAK KHEMANI 3 years ago

A show cause notice nas been issued to the company today by me as a Food Safety Officer Food Safety & Drug Administration Deoria Uttar Pradesh for violation of section 24 of the Food Safety & Standard act,2006 which is punishable under section 53 of the same Act.If found guilty the company will be fined for upto ten lakhs .

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