Fact Check: Is Your Ice Cream Different From Frozen Dessert?
A Whatsapp message shared widely pops up every year as seasons change that claims that Wall, Kwality ice cream is not really an ice cream.
The message links to an old article by Economic Times from 2012 and claims Amul has won a lawsuit against Kwality and other ice cream makers and they can no longer sell their products as ice cream. The new marketing name is 'Frozen Desserts'.
The message further says that when you look up the word 'frozen desserts' it says hydrogenated oil which is dalda. So if a product says 'frozen dessert' it definitely means it is dalda.
The message further says that Amul is the only company that makes ice cream from milk and not vegetable fats.
Is the claim true? FIT reached out to Hindustan Uniliver, the manufacturers of Kwality Walls in India, to get clarity.
Claim 1: Amul Won a Lawsuit Against Kwality Walls
We first checked the claims made in the Economic Times article itself - dated 2.08.2012. The article claims:
India's advertising regulator (Advertising Standards Council of India) has told consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever to stop mentioning its Kwality Walls brand as 'ice cream' in certain advertisements following a complaint by top ice-cream brand Amul.
Kwality Walls is frozen dessert, which looks and tastes like ice cream but is made with vegetable fat and not milk fat. Hence, under Indian laws, it does not qualify as ice cream.
We reached out to HUL regarding the first claim and its interpretation in the WhatsApp message that says Amul won a lawsuit against Kwality Walls.
HUL in it's reply had this to say:
ASCI did direct HUL to remove any language in its advertising and marketing efforts that may position its frozen desserts as ice cream. ASCI is an industry self-regulatory body; a directive by the Council can hence not be considered equivalent to a ruling by a court in India.
HUL further clarified that the term 'ice-cream' was carried in a specific 'advertorial' that is different from advertising. The advertorial carried an interview with singer “Shaan” and in response to one of the questions, as a passing reference, he referred to a KW variant as “strawberry cheesecake ice cream”.
HUL says in its response to ASCI, "they clarified that it was the singer’s comment and their packs clearly state the product to be a Frozen Dessert and therefore there was no intention on the part of HUL to mislead any consumer. Subsequently in order to remove any confusion and address the concern, the advertorial was modified suitably."
Claim 2: Kwality Walls 'ice cream' is a Frozen Dessert
The message further says that Kwality Walls cannot sell its product as 'ice cream' but has to sell it as 'Frozen Dessert.'
FIT cross-checked this claim as well. According to Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) rules, as clarified by this release issued on 22.05.2019, ice cream and frozen desserts are defined by the following:
Frozen desserts or frozen confections mean the products obtained by freezing a pasteurised mix prepared with edible vegetable oils or fats or vegetable protein products, or both. It may also contain milk fat and other milk solids with the addition of nutritive sweeteners and other permitted non-dairy ingredients.
And ice cream means frozen milk product obtained by freezing a pasteurised mix prepared from milk or other products derived from milk, or both, with or without the addition of nutritive sweeteners and other permitted non-dairy ingredients.
So, the main difference between ice cream and Frozen Dessert is the freezing process. An ice cream uses milk fat for the freezing process and a frozen dessert uses vegetable fat.
HUL, in an email to FIT, clarified that they have always used vegetable fat in its frozen desserts and as per FSSAI directive, its products are labelled and sold as frozen desserts.
According to HUL:
"The Whatsapp message not only misrepresents facts but also creates an impression that it is a current development – that KW frozen desserts are being sold as ice-creams for which it has come under ASCI’s radar. The fact is that KW strictly follows labelling and packaging regulations – displaying ‘frozen dessert’ on the packages of products in this category."
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Claim 3: Kwality Walls is made Using Dalda/ Frozen dessert is Dalda
The third claim being made in the message, that is repeated for effect, is that 'frozen desserts' use hydrogenated oil which is Dalda. So if a product says 'frozen dessert' it definitely means it is Dalda. Dalda is a brand that sells vanaspati oil.
As per FSSAI product standards regulations, Vanaspati means any refined edible vegetable oil or oils, subjected to a process of hydrogenation in any form [or chemical or enzymatic interesterification]. It shall be prepared by hydrogenation from groundnut oil, cottonseed oil and sesame oil or mixtures thereof or any other harmless vegetable oils allowed by the government for the purpose. Refined sal seed fat, if used, shall not be more than 10 per cent of the total oil mix.
Whereas, “vegetable oils” means oils produced from oilcakes or oilseeds or oil-bearing materials of plant origin and containing glycerides.
In an email interview with FIT, HUL clarified:
"Vanaspati (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils) and vegetable oil are not the same. Both are different in the process of manufacturing, composition and product properties. Kwality Wall’s Frozen Desserts use Vegetable Oils and NOT hydrogenated vegetable Oil/Vanaspati."
For clarity, Amul uses milk fats and not vegetable fat for the purpose of freezing. Hence it qualifies as 'ice cream' under FSSAI regulations.
Internationally, definition of ice cream differs according to individual regulations.
Why Is Vanaspati Problematic?
Several studies have linked the high content of transfats found in vanaspati hydrogenated oils to heart disease. A Centre for Science and Environment study published in 2009 showed trans fats in seven leading vanaspati brands were five to 12 times the 2 per cent standard set by Denmark.
In 2018, FSSAI said it has decided to bring down the trans-fatty acids (TFA) in vanaspati/bakery shortenings/margarine to less than 2 per cent.
In a statement, FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal had said, "We are planning to achieve less than 2 per cent TFA content by 2022, a year ahead of the global target to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat from the food supply by the year 2023."
In the meantime, manufacturers have raised objections on the nomenclature frozen dessert and have sent a petition to FSSAI for a review. The regulator has decided to constitute an expert group to further review of the subject. For now, the nomenclature remains 'frozen dessert' for all products that use vegetable fats for freezing process.
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