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The sweet and the sour
What is the difference between
sauce and ketchup'

Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS) tested 15 brands of tomato sauce and ketchup from across the country and two locally available unbranded samples from Ahmedabad. Their findings will tell you where your favourite brand stands.

Key findings

The brands tested were Druk Tomato Sauce, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Kissan Tom Tom Tomato Sauce, Kissan Tom Tom Tomato Ketchup, Madhur Premium Tomato Sauce, Madhur Tomato Ketchup, Maggi Tomato Sauce, Maggi Tomato Ketchup, Nilon’s Tomato Sauce, Nilon’s Tomato Ketchup, Ohms Tomato Sauce, Paulson Tomato Ketchup, R.K.’s Tomato Ketchup, Sona Tomato Ketchup and Tops Tomato Ketchup.

• They also tested two brands — Sona Continental and Tops Continental — which had vegetables as ingredients besides tomatoes. Hence they were kept as a separate category.

• The samples were tested against the specifications laid down in the Fruit Products Order (FPO), 1955, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 3882 and Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA), 1954. The PFA Act and the FPO are mandatory while the BIS is voluntary. None of the brands carried the Indian Standards (IS) mark.

• Lycopene content (the pigment that gives the characteristic red colour of ripe tomatoes and its products) of all the brands was also checked. The more the lycopene, the more will be the tomato content. Low levels of lycopene may be due to less quantity of tomato pulp or poor quality of tomatoes used. CERS found that none of the standards talk about the lycopene content of the sauce. Madhur Ketchup (10.2 mg/100 gm) had the highest lycopene content followed by R.K.’s ketchup (9.9 mg/100 gm) and Maggi Sauce (9.1 mg/100gm).

• CERS tested all the brands for mould, yeast, spores and bacteria count. These are responsible for many kinds of food spoilage before and during processing. Paulson Ketchup, Sona Ketchup , Druk Sauce along with both the unbranded samples were found to be having a very high yeast and spores count. Sona Ketchup and both the unbranded samples failed the test for bacteria count. Sona Ketchup had the bacteria count as 200 million per cubic centimetre (cc) against the limit of 100 million per cc.

• Paulson Ketchup, Sona Ketchup, Ohms Sauce and one unbranded sample L-1 failed the test for acidity. If the acidity (acetic acid) is lower than the minimum limit, mould and yeast may grow resulting in shorter shelf life of the product. The PFA Act and the FPO have set the limit as not less than 1.0 while the BIS has set the lower limit as 1.2. R.K.’s Ketchup and another unbranded sample L-2 could not meet the requirement of the BIS but passed as per the PFA Act and the FPO.

• The presence of preservatives prevents food spoilage and increases the shelf life of the product. But too much of it is not desirable. The PFA, BIS as well as the FPO, have set the limit at 750 ppm. Paulson Ketchup, Sona Ketchup and one unbranded sample L-1 were found with very high levels of benzoic acid. Heinz Ketchup was found with the lowest amount of preservative.

• Sona Ketchup and the unbranded sample L-2 were found with the colour sunset yellow and hence failed the PFA test. Sunset yellow can provoke asthma attacks, skin rashes, hyperactivity and gastric problems. The brands were also tested for specific gravity, total soluble soilds and heavy metals. All brands conformed to this test.

• Trained panelists tested the samples for colour, consistency, flavour and absence of defects. Among the national brands, Heinz Tomato Ketchup was preferred the most by them. Among regional brands, Madhur Sauce was liked the most.

• Among the national brands, Maggi Ketchup scored the highest followed by Kissan Sauce and Heinz Ketchup. Among the regional brands, Madhur Premium Sauce and Ketchup topped the list.

• In the continental category, both Sona and Tops were found to be non-conforming, so they were not rated and ranked.

Best buy

The ‘best buy’ is based on the overall score and price. In the national category, Maggi Ketchup scored the highest. Although Nilon’s Sauce scored lower, it was the ‘best buy’ as its price is less than that of Maggi.

In the regional category, both Madhur Sauce and Ketchup scored the same. Madhur Ketchup is priced lower than Madhur Sauce and hence is the ‘best buy’.

What is the difference between sauce and ketchup'

If you go by the standards, they are one and the same. The standards too are same for both.

Hindustan Lever Limited informed CERS that in India there is no difference between ketchup and sauce. Traditionally, in the US, tomato ketchup was prepared with tomatoes, sugar, vinegar/ acetic acid and spices. It is used as a dressing or table condiment to be consumed with chips, burgers, etc. Ketchup is cold and is never heated as a rule. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is made from tomatoes, oil, meat or vegetable stock, and spices. Vinegar is not usually used. Sauces are generally served hot.

Most of the manufacturers informed CERS that ketchup is made with spices, onions and garlic while sauce is generally made without spices.

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