Comparative Testing Project

OVERVIEW

This was primarily undertaken for consumers so that they can remain regularly informed on the quality of products and benefit from the findings of tested products. This would in turn help them to make informed choices on the products they buy. VOICE started Comparative Product Testing since 1991and has been able to sustain it till date due to the acceptability and empowerments of consumers. The guidelines for Comparative Testing have been broadly followed based on recommendations of Sathi Nair Committee, Govt. of India and IS/ISO Guide 46. It has till date published the test reports of over 250 ranges of products in our monthly magazine Consumer VOICE.

CAMPAIGN FOCUS

  • To generate awareness among consumers across the country on the quality of product.
  • To help consumers make an informed choice based on the test findings.

CHALLENGES

  • Finalisation of test labs – As these tests are sensitive and will affect both the consumer and the industry we needed to finalise NABL accredited labs.
  • Identification of popular products and brands – A thorough market survey had to be done for identification of products which could be tested and also ensuring that all brands whether local or national were not left out.
  • Timely delivery of test results before the publication Consumer VOICE magazine.

TESTING METHODOLOGY

The methodology and processes of comparative testing are based on the guidelines and recommendations contained in the Report of the Sathi Nair Committee appointed by the then Ministry of Civil Supply & Public Distribution System and the MoU with Stiftung Warentest of Berlin, Germany.

Some of the major recommendations of Sathi Nair Committee on Comparative Testing include:

  • Manufacturers should agree to procedures being followed  in comparative testing.
  • A weighting and grading plan to be evolved to suit Indian conditions.
  • CT would be done on 10-15 models purchased from market.
  • Samples from market to be based on market share of the company.
  • In case of litigation, lab experts are expected to appear to witness the test findings.

The comparative testing has several stages involved in the process which includes development of the test programme, preparation for testing, sample selection and preparation, lab testing and finally lab results.

IMPACT

Based on the technical writeup our editorial team prepared articles that were covered in our Consumer VOICE magazine and on the website.

VOICE Society has conveyed the key test findings of comparative testing to regulatory bodies and concerned Government departments for appropriate action. Letters were sent to Regulatory Authorities for taking action on deviation/variation observed in Packaged Drinking Water ( 1 Ltr. and 20 ltr. bottles) and Wheat Flour (Atta). Some of the ground breaking results that were found in our tested products include:

Packaged Drinking Water ( 1 Ltr. and 20 ltr. Bottles)

  • 7 out of 17 brands tested were found not meeting the requirements of mandatory Indian standard
  • Aquafina, Bisleri and Kinley were rated poor and Rail Neer topped in 1 liter packaged drinking water.

Wheat Flour (Atta)

  • Bacteria (yeast & mould , Coliform) were found in most of the brands tested. FSSAI and BIS were requested to prepare standard for the microbiological requirement in wheat Flour.

Liquid Hand Wash

  • 7 of the tested brands of liquid hand wash contain harmful chemicals which are effective in killing germs but weaken the immune system.

RO water purifying system

  • None of the brands could remove E-coli and MS2 virus. In some of the brands level of removal of arsenic and mercury was below the specified limit.

Sunflower Oil

  • Iodine Value of brands Dalda and Sunpure was found lower than requirement

Room Heaters

  • 5 ISI marked brands namely Kenwood, Maharaja, Usha, Remson & Sunflame failed in safety tests.

Ceiling Fans: Only one out of seven brands complied with all the requirements specified in Indian Standard for ceiling fans as well as BEE’s five-star rating. Five brands did not comply with key requirements of Indian Standard in terms of service value and air delivery. They did not fulfil all criteria of five-star rating as their service values were lower than the minimum requirement of 4.0. Luminous, Bajaj and V Guard were ISI-marked but did not meet the key requirements of Indian Standard.

OVERALL FINDINGS OF COMPARATIVE PRODUCT TESTING:

Groundnut Oil: Twelve brands had met the Food Safety Standard Regulations requirement and thus safe for consumption. All the brands were free from adulteration.

Cow Ghee: Eleven tested brands had met the minimum requirements specified in the national standards.

OATS: All the brands meet all requirements specified in the national standards. CURD(Dahi): All brands except Madhusudan,Patanjali and Nova fulfilled all requirements specified in the national standards. Brands  Amul masti  & Patanjali  were cheaper as packed in polypack. Lead content in Madhusudan did not meet the requirement of FSS Regulations.

Tooth Pastes: All the brands met requirements of Indian standard. Colgate and Close Up performed on top in Fluoridated Tooth pastes category and Meswak in Non Fluoridated tooth pastes.

Rice bran Oils: All brands were free from argemone and adulteration of other oils.All brands were meeting the requirements of FSSAI standard, but colour value of some brands was high than specified limit of BIS.

Vanaspati: All the 9 brands tested met the requirements of Food Safety & Standard Regulations.

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