Why Horlicks ad claim on boiled milk is hard to digest

Claim by GlaxoSmithKline that makes the milk supplement harps only on one aspect of study, which incidentally is funded by another multinational—Nestle

Published: Wednesday 25 September 2013

A Horlicks advertisement that harps on how milk loses nutrients upon boiling in order to promote the milk supplement does not appear to be based on independent research. It turns out that one of the studies cited by the makers of Horlicks has been funded by Nestle India Limited, a private entirtmultinational corporation. The research study is a collaborative effort of Nestle and Punjab Biotechnology Incubator (PBTI), a Punjab government undertaking. It was published in January-March, 2012 issue of the Indian Journal of Public Health.

The advertisement also presents only part of the information in the study, Impact of household practices on the Nutritional Profile of milk published in Indian Journal of Public Health in 2012. The study results state that boiling of milk increased the concentration of most of the components and minerals, except for vitamins A, B3, B5 and B12 where the decrease observed was 21 per cent, 13 per cent, 3 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively. The researchers also concluded that storage of milk led to a decrease in total solids by 19 per cent and vitamins A, B3, B5 and B12 by 26 per cent, 17 to 19 per cent, 23 per cent and 18 to 26 per cent, respectively.

'Boiling needed to make milk safe'

While the Horlicks advertisement has tried to cash in on this one aspect of the study, researchers involved clearly state that although boiling of milk is associated with some loss of water-soluble vitamins, it is an important practice which helps in improving the safety and in keeping the quality of milk. They recommend that boiling of milk before consumption should be practiced as prevention of food-borne illness remains a priority in the Indian context.

Talking to Down to Earth, one of the authors, Nidhi Yadav, says, “we analysed samples of raw milk from the market and found that during boiling milk, water evaporates as a result of which the milk components like calcium and minerals are concentrated. This results in a relative increase of their values.”

“However, the boiling process had a deleterious effect on heat sensitive vitamins. Similar effects in pasteurized milk have been reported earlier,” she said. She added that the study was done under a project but refused to divulge details of the project.

The study says that 15 minutes of heating of milk has been reported to result in 24 per cent losses of vitamin B 12 and microwave heating of milk has been reported to cause 30-40 per cent losses in vitamin content of bovine milk.

The study was carried out by a team of five researchers. Of them, Sanjeev Ganguly and Vivek Garg are from Nestle. Ganguly is head of medical and scientific affairs while Garg is manager medico marketing. The other team members are Sanjivan Bahman, project associate; Yadav, scientist chemical, and Satwinder S Marwaha, all from Punjab Biotechnology Incubator.


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