Fourteen popular brands of detergent powders in the retail market failed to meet the grade 1 requirement on cleaning efficiency laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), according to a recent report by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
Consumer Voice, a non-profit organization, conducted the tests on behalf of the ministry. The samples of 14 popular brands, including Ariel Matic, Henko, Surf Excel, Tide Plus, Super Nirma, among others, went through a gamut of tests on parameters including detergency, active ingredients, total phosphates, ash built-up, etc.
Henko Matic, Henko Stain Champion, Super Nirma Blue and Uni Wash were found to have added phosphate in the range of 3.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent while the Indian Standard specifies the minimum quantity as 11 per cent for Grade 1 and 7 per cent for Grade 2. With the amount of phosphate in these brands, these cannot be termed eco-friendly.
The report also notes that all the 14 brands did not meet the labeling requirements. They failed to caution that detergent solutions can be skin irritants and that one should avoid prolonged contact with them. “As per national standards, grades are required to be mentioned on the label. Grades I, II and III are different quality levels of detergent powder, where grade I refers to the highest quality and III the lowest. Consumers can gauge the quality of the product if the grade is mentioned on the label. Manufacturers, therefore, have an obligation to mention this to guide consumers suitably,” K C Chaudhary, senior manager-technical, Consumer Voice was quoted as saying.
As per Indian standards, the detergency percentage specified for detergent powders is a minimum 65% for grade I, 55% for grade II and 45% for grade III. The detergency percentage for the 14 brands tested ranged from 57.68% to a low of 39.15%, the report found.
The report said it was due to these reasons that the Union ministry’s department of industrial policy and promotion is now considering bringing soaps and detergents under the mandatory standards prescribed by BIS.
The detergent market in India, with its increasing ability to influence consumers through advertisements, is rapidly expanding. The market for synthetic detergents was valued at about Rs 112 billion as of 2012–13, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of three per cent. The machine or automatic wash sales has been dominated by powder detergents (vis-à-vis liquid detergents), with a 98 per cent share in the market and a size of Rs 18,700 million.