Tomato Ketchups - As safe as they come
That ketchup in the refrigerator goes with just about everything – from fried samosas to sandwiches and from kadai-tossed vegetables to kebabs and omelettes. The common perception of the ketchup as a generally healthy and low-calorie condiment has contributed to its growing consumption. So then, are all brands of tomato ketchup safe for consumption, considering that they use acidifying agents for enhancing taste as well as prolonging the shelf life? Are they free from yeast and mould? This report checks six leading brands of tomato ketchup along these and other parameters that are important determinants of quality and safety.
The good news is that all six brands of tomato ketchup passed all the tests. None diverged from the Food Safety and Standards Regulations on the key parameters that we tested them for. Of course, some scored better compared to others, as discussed in detail below.
You can see list of our CV Surveillance Series - Tomato Ketchup below, perform Side-by-Side comparison. If you need further help, do have a look at Conzumr Guides and Tips. Alternatively you can view all Tomato Ketchup to choose your own favourites.
Tomato ketchup and tomato sauce means the product prepared by blending tomato juice/puree of appropriate concentration with nutritive sweeteners, salt, vinegar, spices and condiments and any other ingredients suitable to the product, and heating to the required consistency. Tomato paste may be used after dilution with water suitable for the purpose of maintaining the essential composition of the product.
Side by Side comparison
- None of the brands surpassed the permissible limit for yeast and mould count and are therefore safe for consumption.
As per the national standards (BIS and FSS Rules, 2011), the product must comply with the following requirements:
- Total plate count: Not more than 10,000/ml
- Yeast and spores: Not more than 125 per 1/60 c.m.m
- Mould count: Positive in not more than 40 percent of the field examined
- All the brands passed the tests for mould count and yeast and spores count. Mum’s showed a total plate count of 745 cfu/ml, but that was within the specified limit. All the other brands had a TPC of less than 10 cfu/ml.
- Colour: The colour of tomato ketchup should be a characteristic red, reasonably uniform, and free from any blackening of surface or any discoloration.
- Consistency: Tomato ketchup should have good fluid consistency and uniform texture. It should not have tendency of separation.
- Taste and flavour: Tomato ketchup should have an appealing flavour and should be free from any scorched, burnt or other objectionable flavour.
- Absence of defects: It should be practically free from visual defects such as seeds, skin, dark specs or other hard and coarse extraneous material.
- Maggi was the most liked brand among panellists, and was followed by Reliance Select and Delmonte
For General Qualities
- Heinz and Del Monte were packed in plastic bottles. All the other brands were packed in glass bottles.
- Name of the product
- Trade name, if any
- Name and address of manufacturer
- Net quantity in gram or kg
- Month and year of manufacture
- The words ‘Best before’ (month and year to be indicated)
- Nutritional information
- FSSAI license number
- Logo indicating ‘vegetarian’ or ‘non-vegetarian’ statusBatch or code number
- Storage information
- Maximum Retail Price (MRP)
- Customer-care details
Lycopene content in tomato ketchup is an indicator of the quality of the tomato content in it. The more the lycopene, the more is the ripened tomato content. Low levels of lycopene indicate the use of either less or unripe quantity of tomato pulp or poor quality of tomatoes.
So far, no requirement for lycopene has been specified in FSS Regulations or BIS.
- TSS was above the minimum requirement in all the brands.
- Patanjali contained the highest TSS and Heinz the lowest.
Total soluble solids is an expression for the combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid; these are present in a molecular, ionised or micro-granular suspended form. The main ingredients containing TSS are water, tomato paste, sugar and salt, and a minor quantity can be found in vinegar, spices and preservatives.
As per the national standards (BIS & FSS Regulations, 2011), tomato ketchup must contain not less than 25 per cent of total soluble solids.
- All the brands were found above the minimum requirement for total soluble solids.
- TSS was found highest in Weikfield and lowest in Mum’s.
- Acidity (as acetic acid) was above the prescribed limit in all brands.
Acidity is related to the shelf life of the product. If acidity (acetic acid) is lower than the minimum limit, microbes will begin to grow, allowing contamination of the product and reducing its shelf life. As per the national standards, acidity should be a minimum 1.2 per cent by weight; as per FSS Regulations, it should be a minimum 1.0 per cent.
- All the brands were well above the minimum requirement set by the Indian Standard as well as FSS Regulations.
- No chemical preservative (benzoic acid) was found in Heinz. Heinz has claimed on the label that no artificial
- All the brands were found well within the maximum permissible limit of 750 ppm.
- Heinz was the only brand that did not contain anypreservative. It may be noted that Heinz did not claim to have added preservatives.
- In the other brands, the amount of benzoic acid ranged from 388.60 ppm (Maggi) to 730.27 ppm (Delmonte).