CityGreens Consumer Awareness Initiative. Ice Cream vs. Frozen Desserts and How to check for adulteration in them

In recent times you may have come across the debates around labeling and advertising of ice cream vs. frozen desserts. Now that the law has given a clear mandate on which products should be labeled as ice cream and which products as frozen desserts, you may be feeling assured that all the information is out there now, fair and square. Well, you are in for a surprise. But before broaching the subject, let’s understand what goes into making ice cream and what are the adulterants typically added to it.

Ingredients used in making ice cream:
The ingredients that go into making ice cream are milk fats, non-fats milk solids (lactose, casine, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc.), sweeteners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, water, flavors, colors, and fruits.

Additives added in ice-cream:
Ice-creams are adulterated by using non-standard or inferior ingredients. The additives used in ice cream are:-

  • Low quality, cheaper and unhealthy (rather more harmful) sweeteners like Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrups, etc.
  • Unhealthy gums added to increase the thickness of ice cream, impart a creamy texture, delay melting time due to added stickiness, and increased shelf life.
  • Detergents or washing powder to improve smoothness and induce frothing thereby adding to the volume.
  • Low grade or non-food colors.
  • Unhealthy, hydrogenated fats like vanaspati or dalda.
  • Using lesser than mandated amount of milk solids and non-fat milk solids.

How to check for adulteration in ice cream at home:
The short answer is, it is difficult. Apart from the presence of detergents, it is not easy to check for quality of other additives in ice cream.

To check for detergents, take a spoon of ice cream in a cup and squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on same. If the ice cream starts to foam and bubble, this indicates that the ice cream may have detergents in it.

Ice Cream vs. Frozen Desserts:
Back to the discussion on¬†frozen desserts vs. ice cream. As per regulations in India, to be classified as ice cream, the product should contain at least 10% milk fats. Does that mean frozen desserts does not have milk (just like the Amul’s campaign will want you to believe)? To answer this, let us look at the label of a few ice-cream brands

1. Amul: Roasted Almond
Milk Solids, sugar, flavors, emulsifiers, and stabilizers

2. Kwality Walls: Kesar Pista
Milk Solids, sugar, flavors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, edible vegetable fats, and glucose syrup

3. Nandini: Mango
Milk Solids, sugar, flavors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and milk

4. Nandini: Cassatta
Milk Solids, sugar, flavors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and glucose syrup

You will observe that all of these contain milk solids, thus if the propaganda campaign leads you to believe that frozen desserts do not have milk, do not trust them blindly. Read the labels.

The question, which is still unanswered is if both¬†have milk, which one is better, the one with milk fat or the one with vegetable fat. Am not qualified to answer this. As a matter of preference, I would prefer milk fats. However, Unilever has tried to shed light on this aspect through an educational campaign countering Amul’s campaign. You can read the Kwality wall campaign here.

Though the link addresses the question about the presence of milk in frozen desserts and why they think using vegetable fat is healthier than using milk fats. The article is still biased on a few counts, viz:-

  1. It gives the example of countries like Indonesia which do not differentiate between frozen desserts and ice creams, but it does not talk about countries like the US, which do.
  2. It does not talk about the cost dynamics of vegetable fats vs. milk fats (vegetable fats costs less than half of milk fats).

Parting tip:

Another thing you might have noticed (while reading the labels above) is that none of the company gives actual percentages of different ingredients. Does the non-solid milk fats constitute 5% or 50% of the product?

Given that the US Department of agriculture mandates a minimum of 10% milk fats and 6% non-milk fats for a product to be classified as ice cream. My best guess is that both ice creams and frozen desserts being sold in your neighborhood may not contain more than 20% of milk in total (including solid and non-solid milk fats). Thus, if you are one of those parents who happily give ice creams to their kids since it has milk, you will be better off making it at home than choosing one from the shelf.


Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.

He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.

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