How good are digestive biscuits

This test of biscuits focuses on brands that offer digestive claims to offer a rich source of dietary fibre. Consumer Voice carried out comparative tests  on nine brands  available in Indian market. The dietary fibre content was given the highest weightage (20 per cent). Digestive biscuits are baked with white flour (maida) , sugar, milk fat, milk etc. The contents of this snack are broken down in the stomach and absorbed by the body. Dietary fibre

content in a biscuit is, however, not absorbed by the body and passes through the intestine and colon in to stool.  This fibre keeps the digestive system healthy.  Brands also tend to make their own particular claims to stand out and more

often than not, the truth emerges only when we lab test these against bare facts and numbers.

A high fibre diet offers the benefits of normalising bowel movements and health, lowering cholesterol and sugar levels and achieving healthy weight. It is for this reason that digestive biscuits are a healthy snack alternative. It is nutritionally healthy for those who are not getting adequate dietary fibre.  Consumer Voice tested nine brands including Parle and Brittania.  While physiochemical and sensory parameters  were given 60 per cent and 20 per cent weight respectively, safety aspects like microbiological activity and physical packing ad contents were given 20 per cent weightage.

The key physiochemical parameters for which the biscuits were tested included total dietary fibre, energy, protein, carbohydrates, total sugar and fats, acid-insoluble ash and moisture. The testing was conducted at an NABL-accredited laboratory. The table below shows the test results with Priyagold scoring the highest rankings (89/100)  followed by Patanjali (88/100)  and Unibic (87/100). Leading brands like Britannia (86/100 ) and Parle ( 81/100)  were left behind. Priyagold is not only the best quality but also the best buy with the lowest price Mc Vities and Anmol (85/100 each)  are close competitors in quality while Duke (83/100) and Cremica (80/100) follow behind.   

Total Dietary Fibre : Dietary fibre was highest in Patanjali (7.1 per cent), followed by Priyagold with 6.6 per cent. It was lowest in Cremica (4.3 per cent). It may be noted that dietary fibre in Patanjali was lower than their claim of 12.48 per cent.

Energy: Energy value is the amount of calories which our body obtains from food. While there is no requirement prescribed in the national standards, energy value is expected to be higher in biscuits. Among the tested brands, energy value was highest in Dukes (499.9 kcal/100 gm) and lowest in Anmol (458.6 kcal/100 gm).

Protein: Protein is an essential nutrient. It plays an important role in cellular maintenance, growth and functioning of the human body. The highest amount of protein was found in Priyagold (8.6 per cent); it was lowest in Cremica (7.0 per cent).

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are a source of energy. No requirement for carbohydrates has been specified in the Indian standard because of the wide variety of biscuits produced. Carbohydrates percentage was highest in Anmol (73.4) and lowest in Unibic (63.8).

Sugar: Sugar was highest in Anmol (22.5 per cent) and lowest in Britannia (17 per cent).

Total Fats:  All the biscuit samples had fat percentages close to their declared values. Fat was highest in Dukes and Unibic (23.5 per cent each) and lowest in Anmol (15 per cent).

Sensory panel tests were conducted in a lab under the guidance and supervision of technical experts.

Anmol was the most liked brand among panellists, and was followed by Priyagold and Cremica.

Dukes and Parle were the least favoured among all tested brands.

Based on the overall test findings, Priyagold is the top performer. It is also the value-for-money brand costing Rs 20 for 200 gm pack.

In the human sensory panel tests, Anmol was the most liked brand and was followed by Priyagold and Cremica. The least preferred brands were Dukes and Parle.

Dietary fibre was highest in Patanjali (7.1 per cent), followed by Priyagold with 6.6 per cent. It was lowest in Cremica (4.3 per cent). However, dietary fibre in Patanjali brand was much lower than their claim of 12.48 per cent.

The highest amount of protein was found in Priyagold (8.6 per cent); it was lowest in Cremica (7.0 per cent).

Fat was found highest in Dukes (23.5 per cent) and Unibic (23.5 per cent) brands. It was lowest in Anmol (15 per cent).Most of the brands have used palm oil.

Energy value was highest in Dukes (499.9 kcal/100 gm) and lowest in Anmol (458.6 kcal/100 gm).

Carbohydrates percentage was highest in Anmol (73.4) and lowest in Unibic (63.8).

Sugar content was highest in Anmol (22.5 per cent) and lowest in Britannia (17 per cent). If you are diabetic or elderly consume less.

Total plate count was found in two brands, namely Cremica (370 cfu/100 gm) and Anmol (310 cfu/100 gm). However, Indian standard has not specified any limit.

(The writer is managing editor of Consumer Voice and former dean and head of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics)