HDFC Bank chooses Experian National Hunter to tackle loan application frauds

Experian’s Hunter service enables the early detection of potentially fraudulent applications and helps identify fraud rings

Experian, the global information services company, today announced that HDFC Bank has selected Experian National Hunter, an application fraud prevention service to prevent costly application frauds. Now, India’s three private sector banks which include Axis Bank and ICICI Bank are all using Experian Hunter to prevent loan application frauds.

Experian’s Hunter service enables the early detection of potentially fraudulent applications and helps identify fraud rings. The most effective strategy is to prevent the fraud at the point of application and Hunter achieves this without affecting customer service levels and turnaround times.

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United India continues to reject insurance claims

Its business as usual even after two months of the IRDA circular which asked insurers to not reject claims on technical grounds. With no warning or penalty for specific insurers, will the IRDA circular be taken seriously? 

Two months ago the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) issued a circular to life and non-life companies asking them not to reject claims on technical grounds like a delay in filing. Some insurers including United India Insurance were rejecting claims mechanically based on delay in hospitalisation intimation and claims filing. Claims continue to get rejected even after IRDA circular.

For starters, there is no warning or penalty for insurance company to reject claims mechanically on grounds of late filing. The IRDA circular is not an ‘order’ directing any particular insurance company to strictly adhere to the claims rejection on technical grounds. By not naming the errant insurers, the companies can feign ignorance of the snag happening under their nose.

According to industry sources, “The end result is that there is no directive given by insurers like United India to its regional/division offices or third-party administrators (TPA) to take necessary remedial action. There is no change at the ground level which makes the IRDA circular completely ineffective.”
Another source confirms that there is no relaxation on the strict deadlines and condone requests will be rejected in most cases.

United India has strict deadline of hospitalisation intimation within 24 hours and claims submission with seven days of hospital discharge. Minor delay results in claims rejection and condone request is usually refused. Moneylife has examples of some claims rejection even when the strict deadlines were met. Moneylife has done cover story (3 November 2011) on ‘Insurance Claim Rejected’

Interestingly, United India is the only government-owned general insurer which has shown profits and has aggressive plans for business growth. The company’s CMD was quoted saying they have premium target of Rs8,000 crore this year at 25% growth rate in business. They plan to bring down underwriting losses—premium less claims outgo—to Rs900 crore from last year’s figure of Rs1,760 crore. He adds, “Better underwriting, proper pricing of group policies, tightening of claims procedures in respect of health insurance and audit of claims settling agents resulted in reduction in health claims outgo.” The ‘tightening of claims procedure’ surely includes claims mechanically rejected on flimsy grounds of any minor delay (or no delay in some cases) in hospitalisation intimation or claims submission. It did not matter that the company happily collected premiums from same customer for decades.

According to one Moneylife reader, “United India has instructed its offices to send soft data, to the TPAs, of health insurance renewals once a month only, usually on the last day of the month. As a result when an insured is admitted to a hospital a week or two after his policy has been renewed and he contacts the TPA, he is told that as per their records his policy has not been renewed and therefore they are unable to register his claim even though he had called them within the mandatory 24-hour deadline! As a result he is also denied cashless facility and has to go in for reimbursement which again will be denied on the grounds that the claim was not reported within 24 hours!”

He adds, “Another ploy being perpetrated on the policy holders is the raising of queries pertaining to the claim by the TPA wherein it is stated that if the insured does not respond within 15 days the file will be closed. This communication in most cases is not posted to the policy holder whereas a copy of the same is kept in the insured claim file. In cases where it has been despatched the letter usually arrives just a day or two before the deadline giving the insured no chance to reply in time. Once the file has been closed, only a letter from the regional manager will be accepted to reopen the file. The branch (division) mangers have no say on this issue! But if an insured has the tenacity to fight his claim will no doubt be settled. United India is fully aware that a lot of policy holders will not go that far and will simply bemoan their fate and this is United India's way of trying to keep claim ratios within tolerable limits! Policyholders are warned!”

There is no initiative from IRDA to monitor the ground reality of mechanical claims rejection. Will IRDA get the statistics on claims rejection and reasons given by insured for delay? Will it do an analysis on how many requests to condone delay were approved and rejected? Does IRDA intend that insurer follow its advice from the date of circular? What about the claims which are already rejected and condone requested? What about claims which are already rejected, condone rejected and cases closed? The mechanical rejection has been going for long time and the relief has to be applicable for past cases, too. Will IRDA review such cases and give justice?

IRDA needs to check if the insurance company and TPA have a 24X7 system in place to receive intimation and give confirmation number. They should insist on such system being 24X7 customer care and not force the insured to send fax or email within 24 hours of hospitalization. Fax and email for hospitalisation intimation are disputed as being not received or not legible. It is a perfect excuse for claims rejection.

Also read, IRDA asks insurers not to reject health insurance on a routine basis, but don’t pin much hope on this directive

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COMMENTS

Tias Chakraborty

5 years ago

It is sad that the IRDA is not imposing stricter laws against claim rejection by the private insurers. Some of the private players have claim settlement ratios as low as 30% and yet they continue to advertise in a major way. The public is completely kept in the dark and once the claims are registered, these companies do not make any communication. The IRDA needs to take immediate steps to enhance transparency in the private insurance sector.

R Nandy

5 years ago

Buying insurance in India is some kind of a donation.It is extremely difficult to get the claims. Ironically most of the insurers in the health account are in losses according to IRDA figures.My parents have United India and thankfully their hospitalizations were planned and was with the help of their agent,so there were no problems in getting the claims.But,I have the suspicion and evidence that private insurers are even worse in this
regard. A colleague had her mother hospitalized. She had a private health cover from Royal Sundaram. But, Royal Sundaram rejected the claim on technical grounds. Thankfully my friends company Group health insurance covered parents and he got the claims settled through the group cover. The private insurers are careful not to reject group covers on frivolous grounds due to the fear of loosing a large account,but private individuals
are at their mercy.

I had a travel insurance from Bajaj Allianz.I had some stuff missing from my baggage enroute. The losses were nominal below Rs5000.I had made a complain to them for a claim. They didn’t even bother to follow up. I also left the matter as it was not worth my time. Interestingly Bajaj Allianz sells one of the cheapest Car insurance.
Going through their reviews I felt they should be called Bajaj Allianz
Charitable Foundation instead of Insurance as most of the premium paid is a donation without any chance of getting claims.

Insurers crib that Indians are under-insured, but the fact is that
India is a unregulated jungle in which most social contracts are breached.

arun adalja

5 years ago

insurance companies wants to make money only and for simple reasons they reject the claims and premium is always increase when you go for renewal i had taken overseas medical insurance for 6 months from new india and i had extended for another 6 months and they charged 50% extra premum for extended period i am not able to understand the logic even irda did not responded for the same.

Deepika Mahtre

5 years ago

If the message has reached IRDA Chairman he should pull up Managing Director of United India Insurance Co. Openly annonce in the media action taken by IRDA. Give directive to all insurance Companies and Insurance Ombudsman to immediately settle all the claims not paid for delay in intimating the claim and also submission of claim. Many claims are made non payable even when the person has sent claim intimation within 24 hrs and submitted the claim within 7 days. How many complaints must have gathered in Insurance Ombudsman office IRDA should find out and ask Ombudsman to issue order to pay. What happens to those who do not know how to go about is a Profit to United India Insurance Co which the Managing Director is aiming to achieve.

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

Enough is enough, let us accept that IRDA is a toothless tiger, not a regulatory watch dog that can neither growl nor bite.
It is sheerly impossible to reach the TPAs within 24 hours and this is held against the insured.
It needs to be legally examined whether the wanton claim rejection can be tagged on to the Cashless PILs pending in Delhi and Bombay HCs. Or less United India and IRDA need to be hauled up by a PIL.
Concurrently complaints need to be filed with the Insurance Ombudsman in all the state capitals by the affected individuals. Consumer Disputes Redressal Fora are a long way.

REPLY

SAMAR

In Reply to Nagesh Kini FCA 5 years ago

We whole heatedly agree with you, for a settlement per PIL, in all such service gaps felt by policy holders, .but unfortunately , both at Delhi/Mumbai HC, final outcome is waiting , for nearly a year , after IRDA filed their reply.Some interested parties might nudge the competent legal Bench, to please conclude the hearing.What else the Aaam Admi do?

nagesh kini

In Reply to SAMAR 5 years ago

Approach Adv. Shanti and Prashant Bhusan for pro bono or Justice Santosh Hegde or if it fails go to the final Annaji!

vinit

5 years ago

Will the insurance co. pay back the premium if there is delay in service on their part.They are not responsible and accountable for their faults and misdeeds. It is policyholders on whose shoulders everything is shifted. Let there be STATUTORY CITIZEN CHARTER for insurance cos. also so that they can also be penalised for deficiencies in services

SAMAR

5 years ago

Why not call for a face to programme , with UI policy holders /and experts in Insurance, to do away with misunderstandings and transparently explain , why of their grievances, vis a vis the insurance contract & help contain medical malpractices.

REPLY

Hemant

In Reply to SAMAR 5 years ago

need meeting with UI officials, not experts in insurance. please take initiative and arrange for it. i will get UI policyholders.

Mario Domnic

5 years ago

With so many complaints against United India Insurance Co. Ltd. why is regulatory authority not taking any action with the company Managing Director for ignoring the directive given. Do the insured person have to go pleading to the Division Office. Many are aged they do not even know how to go about getting their claim settled. Agents can be of help to some extent. It may not be in all Division Office but in some office of United India Insurance Co. Ltd. there must be a tie of the managers with the agent or not, it is in a way a sure sign of encouraging corruption under the table to extract money from the insured person. Many may be willing to give bribe wanting to get some money of their rightful claim, as they know the trend of corrupt officers working in PSU in India .

Samar

5 years ago

MEDICLAIM is a retail hospital expenses reimbursement retail product, with all the hassles associated with its sales & servicing.Health insurance is a niche market, unlike motor/property insurance.The PSU general insurance Cos are ill equipped for the task, considering disorderly medical providers.They have no option to put all possible checks & balances , under the contract to save their bottom line.

REPLY

Hemant

In Reply to Samar 5 years ago

It's not checks and balances. It is finding creative ways to ensure customer is not able to give intimation within 24 hours. Does United India or TPAs offer 24 hour customer care and give confirmation number when customer calls within 24 hours of hospitalisation. NO. What do disorderly medical provider have to do with insurance contract between customer and insurer? Let the CMD not boast of increasing premium collection and rejecting genuine claims at the same time. It is called cheating.

Samar

In Reply to Hemant 5 years ago

If contract of good faith is broken more often than as exception, the spirit of trust is defeated, & the Insurers clamp down non negotiable terms, unfortunately .There are instances of elements, who make it a habit of seeking loopholes to enforce their rights.So, insurers also must protect their bottom line , citing small prints.Insurance is not an unconditional contract. Lately, they are under obligation to enforce their part of the contract, thanks to CAG strictures.When insurers are regulated , why not Hospitals/Doctors.?

Hemant

In Reply to Samar 5 years ago

it is not fine print, but bold, daylight robbery. intimation within 24 hours also leads to rejection in some cases under garb of not receiving fax/email by TPA. Is it difficult to setup 24 hours customer care by UI or TPA? If so, don't impose clause of initimation within 24 hours. Also, the email 'read receipt' by TPA in most cases is after 4-5 days. it means the TPA do not even see it for long time. How many instances of UI checking with hospital to verify? close to zero, so why do they need intimation within 24 hours? just to harrass & reject claim

dinesh

5 years ago

Insurance companies are interested in collecting premium only. When it comes to paying claims, they take their own time. They look for excuses to delay/reject claims. Policies are not sent in time. Warranties and clauses are not attached.Their softwares do not tell about their faults but they become active in case of claims.

NIRMAL BHAUWALA

5 years ago

my client claim also rejected for late intimation.party admit 20 I GIVE INTIMATION 21 .TPA SAYS IN OUR NEW SOFTWARE TIME WILL CALCULATE FROM SHARP TIME OF ADMISSION.IWORKING 9 YEARS BUT THEY NOT INFORM LIKE THIS CHANGE.I REQUEST IRDA TO PENALTY IF CO.NOT SETTELED CLAIM WITH IN 7 DAYS.24% INT.ADD IN CLAIM AMOUNT. RULES NOT ONLY FOR CUSTOMER

Kapil Kekre

5 years ago

IRDA , or any other regulatory authorities are found in effective when it comes accountability by acompany towards clients. Private companies make use of their guide lines( rules) to get what they want and Public sector company point towards it as shackles for their inability to perform.

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

It's time that the in-house TPAs proposed by the 4 PSU Insurers start operating.
The TPA as a tribe are found to be a bane both for the insured and service providing hospitals in whose name they extract on account money from the companies and play around after parting with a small amount to the hospitals.
Some new insurers have rightly chosen to have in-house claims department.
In the last fiscal 2010, New India gave away Rs. 68 cr. to TPAs for causing more and more harassment!

REPLY

SK MAHAPATRA

In Reply to Nagesh Kini FCA 5 years ago

Nothing prevented PSU Companies, to retain their Claims Dept.Recently, they have aborted their joint venture TPA project.
Govt could help set up a specialist Health insurance, stand alone Co , so that niche issues troubling Aaam Admi, could possibly be addressed, backed by a regulation for accredited health delivery service provider.General Insurance Companies are not ideal vessel to market/service health insurance, if permitted to say so.

Harsh Shah

5 years ago

Very true to every word written by you. IRDA issues directives to Insurance Company. Comes into limelight by media. That’s it all. It makes one wonder what authority and powers IRDA has to ensure implementation of directives given to Insurance Company. IRDA must have received very many complaints of claims being rejected by United India Insurance Co. on mechanical ground. If so what action has IRDA taken at C.M.D. level? Is he being questioned? Or is he allowed to be supreme to continue the business of harassment to claimant. Lakhs of rupees worth of claims must not have been settled. To this C.M.D. with pride is all out to show more profit. There is no time bound for quick settlement of the claim makes Insurance Company play at the cost of Insured Person who is ultimately a suffer. Only alternative left for the claimant is to knock at the door of Insurance Ombudsman or Consumer court through the help of Self made Consultant, a lawyer or a good agent who can help to file a complaint.

dinesh

5 years ago

It is unfortunate that insurance cos reject claims on the ground of delay in intimation or filing of claims. When some accident or sudden illness occurs insured get handicapped and his near ones also do not have any idea about policy details.Further in such cases relatives get occupied in all the hassles.The things become more difficult when incident takes place out of home town . Insurance is a contract of utmost good faith and if the insurance cos. feel that their clients are cheaters then why be in the business. Better wind up and go home.

When chocolate isn’t chocolate anymore...

 In the US, one out of every three or four young children are now obese, and generals from the Armed Forces have represented that stricter controls need to be exercised over packaged foods of this sort. Here in India, we have the world’s largest population of diabetics, and much of it is caused by unhealthy eating

Somewhere in the hubris surrounding the Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) circus, is a small sub-episode, played out for a short while onscreen—but extremely important all the same. It involves the handing over of a basket full of Cadbury products, important because it is not just one of the bigger sponsors, but also because at no stage does the venerable Amitabh Bachchan say anything about them being chocolates or even mentioning the brand.

This discretion is not accidental. Nor does it happen because the advertiser wants less airtime for her buck. The real reason is not shrouded in mystery but like a bad smell it is simply ignored.

Before one moves in-depth into the local Indian scenario with branded ‘chocolates’, it is important to point out that information from the ministry of food processing is still not very clear on the subject. Whether it has to do with cacao, cocoa solids, cocoa butter or any other combination thereof, it appears that the term ‘chocolate’ can be added on to almost anything sold in India, from slabs to bars to barfees to ice-creams and more, without demur—as long as the ingredients mention something to do with some form of cocoa. Sometimes, not even that.

Of course, in another conversation held “off the record”, this correspondent was told by a senior functionary at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that often they follow the US FDA” classifications and standards. That is interesting, because much of the cocoa solids and cocoa butter controversy, in addition to the concept of changing the nomenclature of chemically altered palm oil to give it cocoa butter nomenclature and formulations as well as similarities, started there.

Chatting, separately, with a friend who works on vegetable oil carriers, a specialised sort of sea-going tanker ship which is designed to transport food-grade liquids in bulk across great distances and varying climatic conditions without damaging them, I also came to learn about a palm oil-based product which was now transported in bulk and is being used in lieu of cocoa butter—the main ingredient for most brands of chocolates and chocolate derivatives sold commercially. This sounded interesting—was the ship, then, always afloat in the brilliant aroma of fresh chocolate, certainly something which would match the fresh sea air?

Far from it, I was told—matter of fact, when moving into hotter areas like the Red Sea, the whole ship apparently smelt like cooking oil going bad on a roadside vendors stall off any random highway frying pakodas. Even the heavy oil and diesel fumes were less sickening, as the jokes flowed, after all—add liquor to the stuff in the tanks, and you have a Tia Maria? Food for thought, as we opted for the pink coloured stuff hopefully labelled ‘strawberry’, on the dessert rack.

On the way back home I stopped over at one of those 24x7 convenience stores attached to fuel filling stations, and on a whim and a fancy, asked the attendant to give me a variety of chocolates in the sub-Rs30 range.

With a basket full of ‘chocolates’ from Cadbury's, Nestle, Mars and a couple of other brands, I moved to the check-out counter and re-confirmed from the cashier—these are all chocolates, right? The young man behind the till looked up at me in surprise, then in wonder, and finally took pity and said, ‘of course’—and then added, “Cadbury means chocolate, no?”

How interesting. A story or report is developing, is the thought that went uppermost in my mind as I paid the sizeable bill, there was so much variety. Chocolates are Cadbury, generic, and other brands with similar products in the same shelf are also, thus, chocolates. When I asked the young man why they didn’t have Amul, however, I was told, oh, that’s milk, not chocolate.

But then, Cadbury’s is almost a generic term for chocolates, and asking the sales person at a store for guidance on this is not of much use—anything and everything in the same shelves is, by default, also allegedly chocolate. Somebody will say—the sales person is really not the best person to ask for specific details. Valid point, but who else will you ask at a sales outlet, then? And doesn't that mean something—slightly more lucid labelling, for example?

So now we start with the research part. The retail part has already confused many.

First road-block—you have to buy the stuff. Their websites, full of so much effort and detail for everything else, do not provide full details of what their products are made of. But that’s for the India websites—head for the same product, same company, but European and American websites, and you can get more details than you can handle. Try it. So, take a digital photo of the ‘chocolate’ wrapper, and expand it so that you can read it.

Yes, certainly, the list of ingredients and other important information is provided on the packaging. In an extremely small font size, and with special care to the colours used—what looks like dark blue or black on a purple background, for example. Or golden brown on darker brown... Which makes it almost impossible to read on the packaging, unless you go seeking out magnifying glasses and bright lights—or digitally enhance things.

In some developed countries, it is now a pre-requisite that what is not chocolate is not sold as chocolate. By and large, local variations aside, if it did not have at least 30% by way of cacao, chocolate, cocoa butter or solids, then it could not be called ‘chocolate’. Certain products, like ice-creams claiming to be chocolate or using related words, needed to have a “this is not chocolate” cautionary on the wrappers too.

Next, we start with those popular products which don’t have aspirations towards being called ‘chocolates’, but won’t hesitate in giving themselves airs as well as using confusing buzzwords. Cadbury Oreo, for example, uses the term ‘chocolatey’. What does that mean? If you look closely at the wrapper, you will see that it means that the ‘creme’ part contains refined sugar, vegetable fat and emulsifier. The ‘biscuit’ part, however, does claim to have some cocoa solids—though not enough for even the manufacturers to tell us how much.

Moving on, we take a closer look at the flagship brand from Cadbury, called ‘Dairy Milk’. Gets interesting, because the Rs5 and Rs10 packets containing slabs or éclairs don’t even claim to be chocolates, or have any in them. These are, simply, refined sugar in vegetable fat. But the packaging, font, colours used—even the glasses of white liquid shown that could be milk being poured into the ‘I’ are the same—as with the costlier ‘Dairy Milk’ bar which cost Rs25-Rs30 and more—and have “rich classic milk chocolate” written on them.

Coming up next is something called Galaxy Smooth Milk, manufactured in Dubai, exported and imported by Mars in India—and over-printed with the line “smooth and creamy milk chocolate”, as well as with a strategically placed sticker placed over the ingredients part. This sticker says “no vegetable fat in chocolate”, but when you peel the sticker away carefully, you learn that the non-chocolate part of this product does contain—vegetable oils.

Nestlé’s packaging appears to have their own strategies too. KitKat says that it has crisp wafer fingers covered with ‘chocolayer’. The milk chocolate bar says that they are Swiss chocolate makers since 1904, but the ingredients take you through the usual storyline of going coy about its ingredients—‘nature identical’. Best, of course, is their Milky Bar, sold in the same chocolate shelves—it gives up, doesn’t even claim to have any chocolate in it, and goes into partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Of course, the fonts used and the labelling are deceptively similar to their chocolates, but then, that’s par for the course. 

The ‘chewy’ chocolate bars, they have their own stories—5-Star by Cadbury is “yummy chocolaty”, Bar-One by Nestle is “delicious chocolayer” and Snickers by Mars is “covered in chocolate”. But all of them, without exception, have their share of vegetable fats and oils. Of course, that’s never part of the advertising or marketing strategy. 

Because, simply put, it would not pay to tell buyers the truth. That what they are getting, largely, is chemically altered and modified vegetable oils—especially palm oils. For whatever reason, and one reason is that the process of converting palm oil into cocoa butter brings it very close to the next step where they all end up as industrial plastic sludge, even house flies and blue bottle flies don’t sit on these confectionary item when you unwrap them and put them out on a balcony,

So when and how did cocoa butter morph into something that came out of palm oil? Here’s one of the articles on the subject.

http://www.waset.org/journals/waset/v54/v54-95.pdf

The chemically re-formulated palm oil is just one step away in the world of chemistry from being converted into a form of industrial plastic. Even in this shape, it has many shared properties, for example—flies and other insects won't come near it.

Try it. Get hold of an imported packet of chocolates, sold in Europe or North America. Unwrap them, and put them out on a balcony in plates, along with other plates that have Indian ‘chocolates’ of the sort mentioned as well as cut fruit like bananas. And watch where the flies and other insects head for.

Why don’t the flies head for the Indian ‘chocolates’, the ones with palm oil cocoa butter in them?

If we had to eat sweetened vanaspati mixed with refined sugar, we didn’t need FDI from abroad to come and do it for us, and tell us it was chocolate. Even the worst of local sweet and sweetmeat manufacturers would never have sold us this sort of garbage.

Out there in the US, one out of every three or four young children are now obese, and generals from the Armed Forces have represented that stricter controls need to be exercised over packaged foods of this sort. Here in India, we have the world’s largest population of diabetics, and much of it is caused by unhealthy eating of this sort.

Is it too much to expect from these companies, with their ‘brand values’ and all the rest of it, to be honest about what they are selling?

No wonder Amitabh Bachchan just handed over the package full of Cadbury whatevers. He is now a grandfather, again, and is probably concerned about what that child will eat when she grows up. Certainly not refined sugar in vanaspati.

 

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COMMENTS

Malegiri Das

4 years ago

An eye opening article sir.. thanks to Veeresh Malik and moneylife for bringing to light such excellent really needed information to its readers.

Sanjay

5 years ago

After going this eye-opener, i posted the URL and message asking about the presence of palm oil in Dairy Milk from Cadbury's website. As expected, got no reply from the. No reply from Nestle also.
But noticed one thing lately. Recently saw Dairy Milk (Rs. 5 and Rs. 10 ones) manufactured in November. They changed the ingredients to omit Palm Oil and Cocoa Butter and now include Cocoa Solids.
Don't whether they have made changes in the wrapper or have the actual contents also changed? No way to figure that out.
No perceptible difference in taste.

tesh

5 years ago

Thanks for writing this. It is encouraging to see others becoming aware of the issues the foreign companies are piling on to India. I lived in US for 10 years and struggled to find good food in the world's richest country.

Those countries have made a fortune in turning their GMO tomatoes into corn syrup ketchup and selling it to their own and our kids.

I would ask you to look into other products that they are pushing into the country and spread the word. Horlicks is another culprit, which they push through doctors as medication supplements to formers that cannot afford the price.

I am an entrepreneur and have been studying cocoa and chocolate over the last three years. In India, 100% of "chocolate" is not really that.

It is waxy mixture of sugar, milk powder, emulsifiers and at times vegetable oils with some cocoa powder (often less than 10%) to give it a brown color. It is sad because real chocolate is actually good for your health in small doses. I could go on about this, but basically the mexicans invented chocolate and they still have hot chocolate in litres everyday and live much longer than americans.

It is an issue for someone like myself that has been in R&D in my lab for making real high quality chocolate that would be in-line with or better than swiss chocolates. This is economically not feasible in india because unfortunately my competitors, which is companies like cadburys/nestle/mars, make big bucks by selling wax for the price of real chocolate as the owners of that company don't live in India and probably don't care as much about the health of the population here.

Any suggestions on how I could get to the right audience/consumers to access my product, because as of now I know that it is only a small percentage of India that would appreciate this and make the effort to purchase?

REPLY

malq

In Reply to tesh 5 years ago

Dear Tesh ji,

Thank you for writing in, and your views as well as information from you appreciated.

I would think that there is a reasonably good sized market increasing rapidly for anything that is good in quality in every locality and town and city in India. People across all social and economic levels will seek out good food even if it sold from a hole in the wall.

Small entrepreneurs can save on marketing and logistical costs down-stream, while being able to achieve economies of scale at the purchase and supply chain end due to evolving realities. The internet is another avenue, though inter-state movement of food products like yours would require special handling.

I would only quote the example of entities like Kayani Bakery/Pune as an example. They keep their raw material and product quality at "excellent", keep the prices of their basic items like bread at below market prices, and have only one outlet.

Likewise, Murthy's chocolates in Pune - family run, single outlet, and what they say is what they sell.

http://www.murthys.com/

Good luck with your efforts in India. There is great potential. The MNCs will realise that they can not keep on selling junk, and there is great space for others.

This is just an idea sharing, nothing more, the effort is obviously yours and there is no fixed cookie cutter method to make dough . . . to mix puns and metaphors.

Regards/VM

p k

5 years ago

Dear Mr Malik

thanks for another informative and relevant article from you.
we are brainwashed into drinking coke with lunch or dinner " family fun" highly irresponsible and unethical on the part of those american comapnies.it seems to be the strategy of making a nation of diabetic and heart patients , to sell alopathic medicines.

chocolat is another classic case where anthing and everyhthing goes.
in india everything is almost negotiable.
i have sent the article to my maximum friends.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to p k 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in PK ji, and thank you even more for spreading the word, power of the consumers!!

The corporates get away with this, murder and more, by twisting rules in what they often refer to as "markets". We need to be a "country" and change this.

Regards/VM

Capt S M Divekar

5 years ago

A very informative article. Are you coming for DRACEA dinner, at Willingdon Club Mumbai tomorrow?

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Capt S M Divekar 5 years ago

Dear Capt. Divekar, thank you for writing in, please do spread the word on these products.

Not attenting DRACEA in Mumbai, am based in Delhi.

rgds/VM

RNandakumar

5 years ago

Thank you Mr.Veeresh. This article is yet another proof of MoneyLife's care towards consumers. May your wonderful services continue. I have already forwarded this article to all my family group to caution them with the dangers of fake chocalates.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to RNandakumar 5 years ago

Dear R. NandaKumar ji . . .

Broadly, what one is trying to get some sort of "this is not chocolate" labelling where "choco-xxxx" kind of words are used, eg: choco-bar, chocozoo, choco-layer, choco-latey, choco-milk" etc One can attempt to achieve this by forcing the authorities as well as get the manufacturers to voluntarily adopt this. The biggest culprit here are Cadbury's, where they use the "Dairy Milk" brand to sell various products, from simple sweetened coloured vanspati/hydrogenated oils in bars to proper chocolates - in other words, riding on an international brand to provide us with inferior goods in India.

Thank you for spreading the word.

rgds/VM

Sanjay

5 years ago

Checked the contents of Amul Chocolate today on its pack. It contains cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Is cocoa butter per se harmful? Or is it a poor substitute of cocoa powder? It didn't specify palm oil.
If one loves chocolates, what other options does one have in indian chocs?

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Sanjay 5 years ago

Dear Sanjay, thank you for writing in.

If you go through the relevant rules and subsequent amendments pertaining to the PFA here:-

http://www.jmc.nic.in/forms/pfaact.pdf

you will observe that it clearly states in A-25.3 that:- ""Chocolate means a homogeneous product obtained by an adequate process of
manufacture from a mixture of one or more of the ingredients, namely, cocoa (cacoa) beans, cocoa (cacoa)nib, cocoa (cacoa)mass, cocoa press cake and cocoa dust (cocoa fines/powder), including fat reduced cocoa powder with or without addition of sugars, cocoa butter, milk solids including milk fat and non-prohibited flavouring agents. The chocolates shall not contain any vegetable fat other than cocoa butter.""

Now, the escape valve here is that the method of "converting" palm oil to cocoa butter brings in a grey area, which the FPA tries to cover here:-


A.10.05—COCOA BUTTER means that fat obtained by expression from the nibs of the beans of
Theobroma cocoa L. It shall be free from other oils and fats, mineral oil and added colours.
It shall conform to the following standards:
Percentage of free fatty acids Not more than 1.5 (calculated as oleic acid)
Iodine value 32 to 42Melting point 29 degree C to 34 degree C
Butyro-refractometer reading at 40 degree C 40.9 degree C to 48.degree C
or
Refractive Index at 40 degree C 1.4530 – 1.4580
Saponification value 185 to 20

+++

So far so good.

+++

Now comes the labelling part, where the manufacturers try to disguise the vegatable oil (non-natural-cocoa butter.) But then, they end up giving away the game in other issues. Take a look at, for example, Kit-Kat, and this judgement:-

http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/713360/

""The principal ingredients of the product are wafer, sugar, milk powder, wheat flour, cocoa paste, cocoa butter, hydrogenated vegetable oil and process additives. The process of manufacture is in four parts. The wafer is made out of wheat flour, oil and other such goods. A filling made of praline and other substances is sandwiched between layer of such wafers and waffles. The sandwiched wafers are thereafter coated with chocolate manufactured from the cocoa paste, cocoa butter, sugar, so as to completely cover it. The resultant product is thereafter packed.""

Question:- where did the hydrogenated vegetable oil (vanaspati) go? Answer: it went into the "cocoa paste".

+++

In other cases, the "articficial" cocoa butter chemically obtained from palmoil is passed off as cocoa butter, with again some sleight of hand in the contents.

That's been covered in the main article.

+++

Specifically wrt Amul Chocolates, I have not had the time to get the complete range, but this is what their website says:-

http://www.amul.com/products/chocolate.p...

You will observe that they have "chocolates" and something called "chocozoo". The "chocozoo" range contains hydrogenated veg oils (vanaspati). Just like Cadbury's Dairy Milk (5/- and 10/- bars).

+++

More details soon.

rgds/VM



Sanjay

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Thanks for the detailed reply. As of now, it looks like one should avoid chocolates containing Palm Oil, hydrogenated veg oils.

malq

In Reply to Sanjay 5 years ago

Thanks for writing in, Sanjay - thing is, that using a loophole, chemically altered palm oil is being imported as "cocoa butter", even though it has not been sourced from cocoa (theobroma) as is required. Once this enters the supply chain, it gets disguised as "cocoa butter", and marking on the side of the package become deceptive. Take a closer look at the 10/- packet of Cadbury's Dairy Milk and the costlier packets - and read their contents carefully.

rgds/VM

sunny

5 years ago

Awesome article. Thanks for this relevant information.I am not surprised that this is happening in a country like ours where corruption is a birth right...

REPLY

malq

In Reply to sunny 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, Sunny, and please help by spreading the article as well as information.

Regards/VM

sunny

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Will surely do. Please keep writing such good and informative articles...

Sanjay

5 years ago

Really shocking. Used to always wonder why no one stocks Amul chocolates. Their dark chocolates are real good. Nor are they as costly as Cadbury ones.
Sir you seem to cover really relevant topics, really appreciate your efforts and depth you provide.

malq

5 years ago

And a photograph added here:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vm2827/6387...

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