Mustard oil is a traditional edible oil to which the Indian subcontinent has been a home for centuries. Mustard seeds are grown in most parts of India—all the way from Punjab and Gujarat in the east to Bengal in the west. They are used as a spice in food and its oil is extracted using traditional method Kolhu, in most villages and rural communities. This kachi ghani oil is used as an edible oil as well as cure for many kinds of ailments. It has also been used as hair oil traditionally.

The occasional doubts that are generated by Western scientific research concerning its side effects have not deterred the faith of households across India in its continuous usage.  In fact, research reinforcing its vitamin-laden, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties has served to make it even more popular. Its distinctive and pungent taste lends itself rather well to most dishes. In mid-2019 there are a host of mustard oil brands in the Indian retail markets.

MRP is misleading as all brands sell below MRP

Thirteen leading brands of cold-pressed (kachi ghani) oils were identified in retail markets. All are one litre packs and priced between a low of Rs 97 (Dalda) and Rs 99 (Reliance) to a high of Rs 243 (Engine). Almost all brands were available at prices below MRP price labels.

This report is a firsthand study of 13 brands of kachi ghani (cold-pressed) mustard oil along relevant parameters which were lab tested by Consumer Voice.

How was quality tested and compared?

Each quality parameter was given a weight in a way that all weights added to a score of 100.  Consumer Voice tested each brand on a range of quality, safety and acceptability parameters. These included allyl isothiocyanate, iodine value, acid value, saponification value, peroxide value, presence of argemone oil and hydrocyanic acid, moisture and insoluble properties, admixture with other oils, refractive index, unsaponifiable matter, flash point, specific gravity, polybromide test, Bellier’s turbidity test, hexane, and colour on Lovibond Scale. These tests covered adulteration as well as its identity. The sensory tests covered aspects like appearance, colour, flavour and taste. These parameters were based on FSS Regulations, Agmark and Indian Standard requirements.

 

Top quality

performers

Dalda which was the lowest priced in the market and Tez which was mid-priced were the top two performers. They scored 90/100 each. Four brands scored 89/100—Dhara, Nature Fresh, Reliance and Emami. Two brands scored 88—Fresh & Pure and Fortune. Four brands scored 87/100—they included the most expensive brands like Engine, P Mark, Patanjali and Mahakosh. Kanodia, one of the oldest and trusted brands scored 86/100.

Shelf-life/Best before

The declared shelf-life of all tested brands is in the range of 9 to 12 months. Consumers should keep this in mind if they are buying the large pack of five litres or more capacity. They should ensure that the oil remains stable within the consumption period.

Test results for physiochemical parameters

Allyl isothiocyanate

The Indian Standard requirement is 0.20 per cent to 0.60 per cent.

All brands fulfilled the requirements set by the national standards.

Iodine value

The iodine value is a measure of the unsaturation of fats and oils. Iodine value of mustard oil shall be between 96 and 112 as per FSS Regulations.

All brands were within the specified limit.

Is the oil rancid?

Peroxide value: It gives the initial evidence of rancidity in unsaturated fats and oils. Peroxide value of mustard oil shall be a maximum 15 as per FSS Regulations.

All brands were within the specified limit.

Tez, Nature Fresh and Patanjali had the lowest peroxide values.

Acid value: It gives an idea about the age of the oil, because acid content increases in oil with time due to hydrolysis with moisture. Acid value shall be not more than 6.0 as per FSS Regulations and not more than 1.5 as per Indian Standard and Agmark.

Acidity in none of the brands exceeded 1.5, as required by the Indian Standard.

Tez, Dalda and Mahakosh were found to have the lowest acid values.

Refractive index: It is used to detect rancidity in edible oil. For mustard oil, it should be between 1.4646 and 1.4662.

All brands were within the specified range and were clear and without any haziness.

Moisture and insoluble impurities

Agmark and Indian Standard have set the permissible limit for moisture in edible oils at not more than 0.25% of net weight/volume. The product should also be free from any kind of impurities that are insoluble in oil. All brands were within the specified limit.

Unsaponifiable matter

Unsaponifiable matter in mustard oil shall not be more than 1.2% by weight.

All brands were within the specified limit.

Patanjali and Dalda had the least unsaponifiable matter.

Testing for other oils and adulterants Saponification value

Saponification value helps to detect the presence of other oils/fats. For mustard oil, it should be between 168 and 177 as per FSS Regulations.

All brands were within the specified limit.

Argemone oil

Mustard oil shall be free from argemone oil. Argemone oil is reported to cause glaucoma, dropsy and sometimes total blindness due to the presence of alkaloids.

Argemone oil was not detected in any of the brands.

Bellier’s turbidity test

Bellier’s turbidity temperature test is conducted to check for presence of other oils. It shall be in the range of 23°C to 27.5°C.

All brands fell within the specified range.

Polybromide test

This test is conducted to check for adulteration of unsaturated oils in oils and fats. The results should be negative as per Indian Standard and Agmark.

All brands cleared the test.

Admixture with other oils

Tests were conducted to check for admixture of other oils (castor oil, cottonseed oil, groundnut oil, kusum oil, linseed oil, mineral oil, neem oil, etc.) in the mustard oil.

No adulteration with other oils was detected in any of the brands.

Hydrocyanic acid

Hydrocyanic acid is sometimes present as an impurity in synthetic allyl isothiocyanate, which is commonly used as an adulterant to enhance the flavour of poor-quality mustard oil.

Hydrocyanic acid was negative in all brands.

Health benefits of mustard oil

Heart health: Mustard oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which may help to balance cholesterol levels in the body.

Antibacterial: When consumed, mustard oil may fight bacterial infections inside the colon, intestines, urinary tract and other parts of the digestive system.

Antifungal: Applied directly to the skin, mustard oil can help fight fungal infections.

Digestive aid: Mustard oil boosts the appetite and aids in digestion by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices and bile as well as stimulating the excretion system.

Respiratory aid: Some research suggests that mustard oil may have positive effects on patients suffering from sinusitis. It may also help soothe the effects of coughs, colds and other respiratory illnesses and irritants.

Anti-inflammatory and pain relief: Applied topically, mustard oil can relieve the painful effects of rheumatism and arthritis as well as help soothe sprained ankles and other such joint aches and pains.

Skin health: The high vitamin E content of mustard oil helps improve skin health. It may also help protect the skin from ultraviolet light and other pollutants.

 

The author is Managing Editor of Consumer Voice, and former Dean and head of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi

 

Disclaimer: This study was conducted independently by Consumer Voice

 

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