Sunday, August 28, 2011


Is Mayonnaise better than natural butter? It is a controversial issue on which probably there cannot be any unanimity. It is paradoxical that margarine and mayonnaise which are industry created imitations of original butter claiming now that the impostor is superior to the original! Many imitation products emerge as lower priced alternatives to attract the consumers and with the advent of modern food technology it is possible to develop substitute products that look and taste like the originals and consumers world over have accepted this ground reality without much of a demur though there are many who insist on natural products. It will be interesting to wait for the outcome of the court battle between two food giants in India regarding the nutritional comparison between butter and mayonnaise. Here is a take on this clash between the two dominant food players in the country.

"India's largest food brand Amul has dragged Hindustan Unilever in a lawsuit that challenges the punchline "better than butter" used by the global FMCG company for its Mayonnaise-based product launched in April. The $2-billion Amul has a 90% share in India's organised butter market and has accused HUL of portraying butter products inferior to mayonnaise. The multinational has launched Kissan Creamy Spread and got it endorsed by film actor Juhi Chawla for TV commercials which are on air. The product claims it is three times richer with essential nutrients and contains half the calories as that of regular butter. The dairy cooperative has challenged the claims saying comparison between mayonnaise and butter is not permissible under the law. In the lawsuit filed in Delhi High Court, Amul said: "This (advertisement) is sending a false and misleading message to the consumers who may refrain from consuming butter." Benefits of butter are well-known and time-tested, it added.

In one sense a designer food product can be made more nutritious than the original one because of the feasibility of incorporating out side nutrients to the extent "desirable" but the critical question is how one is sure that these external nutrients are added in optimal quantities that would be absorbed by the body. It is known that absorption and utilization of nutrients vary from person to person and to get a clear picture there will have to be massive data generated through human studies before any definitive claims can be made by the manufacturers on the label or in promotional advertisements. Added to this another factor that can vitiate any claim regarding advantage of a synthetic product over its natural counterpart is the influence of many micro nutrients or biochemicals present in the latter on the over all health value. There are many natural food substances about which complete nutrient details have not yet been unraveled. In the light of these compelling factors there may be a technical advantage for the stand that Mayonnaise is not superior to natural butter. .

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