[Local] The Importance of Reading the Ingredient List (or, How Mustika Ratu is Fooling You)

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I have been using virgin coconut oils on my scalp and hair for a few years. My current favorite oil is made by Blue Stone Botanicals; it is deliciously fresh and rich in aroma, although no additives are added.

Recently, however, I wondered whether I should diversify the oils I use, and picked up the Mustika Ratu Cem Ceman Hair Oil. This oil has been in the market for a while, but one time I took a whiff of it and decided the scent is not appealing, so never purchased it. The other day, on a whim, I picked it up, thinking that I might add some orange oil to make the scent more pleasant. I am already using the Mustika Ratu Cem Ceman Hair Mask, and it was ok, so I thought why not have variety and try the Cem Ceman Hair oil.

Here’s a surprise. Even though this product has been around for years, making the same claims (as far as I remember, as this is a very popular product), Mustika Ratu has actually been misleading consumers. The product touts coconut oil as its ingredient, and even put a picture of coconut on the packaging, but looking at the ingredient list, I don’t see any coconut. What is there is palm kernel oil (the first ingredient, Elaeis guineensis). True, in Indonesian that would be called minyak kelapa sawit, but really, I think it is still misleading to say that oil palm is the same as coconut. Frankly, I think it’s a conscious effort to mislead by Mustika Ratu, since obviously they know that Cocos nucifera is coconut, as it is a content in the Cem Ceman Hair Mask.

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A closer look at the claims and ingredient list

Bottom line: lesson learned! Always read the ingredients list, as even big companies can get away fooling you. What is the Indonesian food and drug agency (BPOM) doing when they put their stamp of approval on this product? This episode strengthens my suspicions that BPOM is only administratively reviewing products (and not actually testing products for touted ingredients). And they’re not even doing these administrative reviews well, if this is an example. Perhaps they should focus on their job more, instead of whining and refusing import by individuals of well-known foreign products (on the premise that they are not imported by those licensed to import). BPOM seems to be interested only in protecting businesses (e.g. in this case Mustika Ratu), rather than the interests of consumers. Bah!

So, tell me, do you think Mustika Ratu at fault here, or is this a normal marketing ploy that I shouldn’t be making a big deal of?

Thoughts? Leave a comment!