Mar 16, 2018

Bournvita Biscuits Review


 Now that I have stopped following food bloggers who promote junk foods, my Instagram feed is clean with some yummy and healthy homemade food-related posts. I heaved a sigh of relief for a few weeks, but junk food promotion in the form of “sponsored posts” have started showing up more often. Is it that more sponsored posts are appearing on Instagram these days? Anyway, instead of whining, let me see this as an opportunity for new blog post ideas. 

Most of us who grew up in the 80s/90s are aware of Bournvita, “the malted health drink” targeted towards growing kids. The biscuits variant of Bournvita is the one that caught my attention through an Instagram sponsored post.

A child is shown holding a whole jackfruit and the voice-over says, “this is healthy but cannot be carried to school”. Then the child is shown holding a Bournvita biscuit and the voice-over goes, “this is healthy and can be taken to school” (Watch the ad here if you haven’t yet seen it)

Another ad shows a child who tries to dip a big brinjal into a glass of milk and the voiceover says, “this is healthy but with milk? Bad idea”. Then the child is shown holding a Bournvita biscuit and the voice-over goes, “this is healthy and can be had with milk. Good idea” (Watch the ad here if you haven’t yet seen it)

While watching the first ad, I was hitting my head, “enna kodumai saravanan idhu?” (Sorry folks who cannot understand Tamil. This is a cult dialogue from a Rajnikanth movie :-) And I wouldn’t be able to do justice if I translate it into English - roughly means what rubbish is this!)

Questions to the makers of this ridiculous ad:
1) Have you heard of fruits like banana, guava, orange, apple etc? They are small, very healthy and can be easily carried to school.
2) Have you heard of dishes like idli, poha, paratha etc? They are home cooked, very healthy and easy to carry to school.

Enough of the sarcasm and rant. Let’s get to the facts:


Ingredients:
Refined Wheat Flour (57%), Sugar, Palmolein Oil, 
Malt Based Food 5% (Malt Extract (51%), Sugar, Cocoa Solids, Caramel (150c), Liquid Glucose, Protein isolate, Maltodextrin, Milk Solids, Vitamins, Emulsifiers (322, 471), Leavening Agents (500(ii)), Minerals, Edible Salt, Artificial (Ethyl Vanillin) Flavour), 
Invert Sugar, Coco Solids (1.4%), Milk Solids (1%), Edible Salt, Leavening Agents (500(ii), 503(ii)), Emulsifier (322), Caramel (150c), Vitamins and Minerals

1) As you can see, the first listed ingredient is Maida which constitutes 57% of this pack. Maida is just plain refined flour with absolutely no nutrition whatsoever. All the fibre has been stripped off the wheat. The bleaching process that converts pale brown wheat to pure white refined flour involves the use of alloxan, a chemical that destroys pancreatic cells, leading to diabetes
2) The second listed ingredient is sugar. 100 gm of these biscuits contain 30 gm of sugar. Serving size is 23 gm (roughly 5 biscuits), which contains around 7 gm or nearly 2 tsp of sugar. These biscuits are very light that a child might end up eating more than 5 biscuits.
3) The third listed ingredient is Palmolein Oil. All packaged foods use this cheapest oil that is highly refined and processed. 100 gm of these biscuits contain 15.3 gm of fat. Serving size is 23 gm (roughly 5 biscuits), which contains around 3.5 gm or nearly a tsp of unhealthy fat.And yes, this pack contains transfat as well.
4) The ingredients list goes on with various additives - emulsifiers, leavening agents, maltodextrin, artificial flavours etc. 
Let’s look at the “health” claims that this brand puts forth:
1) Calcium - 90 mg per 100 gm of biscuits. For a serving size of 23 gm (roughly 5 biscuits), it contains a meagre 20 mg of calcium.
2) Iron - 2.4 mg per 100 gm of biscuits. For a serving size of 23 gm (roughly 5 biscuits), it contains a minuscule amount - 0.5 mg of iron.
3) Dietary Fiber is insignificant (1 gm per 100 gm of biscuits). 
4) ProHealth vitamins listed in this pack - Vitamin B2, B9, B12 and D are so tiny and insignificant that it is only a clever marketing tactic to capture the attention of health conscious parents.

Moreover, why do we need such synthetic vitamins and minerals in the first place, when we can get significant nutrients from grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables? 

Parents who are reading this, your child needs a better, healthier snack box with real nutrition every single day. Let’s not fall for these “health-claims” of packaged foods. And they don’t need such “subah ka biscuits" to kickstart their mornings. 

5 comments:

Nidhal Sinha said...

This is the kind of rants/write ups/reviews that the Indian blogosphere is deficient of!

What choice of words and detailed information that I'll gorge multiple times.

I've restricted my commenting habits for the past few months on blogs but yours compelled me to.

I've always wondered deep down every time I read the nutritional facts on packets of such products if one is actually eating a biscuit for nutrition? ��

It's been years since I gave up Maggie (was unaffected when it was banned), cold drinks and biscuits completely.

Such a small change makes people around me so appalled that they can't wrap their heads around it.

More "Not to go into my stomach" ingredients shall follow the aforementioned.

Anuradha Sridharan said...

Thank you Nidhal for your encouraging words. Great to know that you read the nutrition labels on food packets and have given up junk food. That's an awesome step towards good health and wellbeing.

Jeya Lakshmi said...

This s really awesome.. hats off to you..

Haran said...

While I appreciate your work I am unable to understand how fssai declares these food as safe. Jasmine hair oil of Parachute company is80% mineral oil but shows 2 coconut pieces in the label. Maggie noodles was tested unsafe by an honest Indian in his lab. You know that the lab assigned by the courts found it safe. Next day crores of Maggie noodles were sold. The comany never said it changed anyhing. Still we have the miracle of it becoming safe in the mind of crores of people. No one is concerned!

Anuradha Sridharan said...

You are absolutely right, Haran. Unless we consumers shun away from such products, no regulation or any regulatory authority will look into what goes behind such products.

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