Why food labelling needs to be improved

Although many UK supermarkets and restaurants are reasonably good at labelling vegetarian food as vegetarian, the situation still leaves a lot to be desired. I have started a petition to introduce a mandatory labelling scheme for the following reasons:

  • A product labelled "vegetarian" is (usually) vegetarian, but a product which is not labelled "vegetarian" may or may not be vegetarian, so people often have to resort to reading the ingredients.
  • Explicitly labelling non-vegetarian food as "non-vegetarian" would ensure that vegetarians don’t accidentally buy or consume products which are not suitable for them because of hidden ingredients (such as calf rennet in parmesan).
  • Products labelled "vegetarian" are occasionlly labelled incorrectly, due to a misunderstanding of what is and is not veggie. This is especially true of restaurant menus.
  • For vegans, the situation is much worse. When shopping for vegan products, you have to read the ingredients on almost everything.
  • When it comes to alcohol, there’s very often no way of knowing if something is vegetarian or not. A beer, for example, may or may not contain isinglass, but there’s no way of knowing without contacting the brewery.
  • Similary, medicines are often not labelled adequately.

The scheme I am proposing would resolve these issues by providing a clear definition of what is vegan and what is vegetarian, and by ensuring that all food, drink and medicine is labelled as follows:

  • Vegan products would always be labelled "vegan".
  • Products which are vegetarian but not vegan would be labelled "vegetarian".
  • Anything else would be labelled "non-vegetarian".

The petition has been published on epetitions.direct.gov.uk and can be signed by UK residents and British citizens.

Sign the petition on epetitions.direct.gov.uk

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2 thoughts on “Why food labelling needs to be improved

    • Thanks for your comments Richard. 🙂

      I agree “traces” can be an issue – I’ve seen products labelled as vegan that also have the traces disclaimer, but on the other hand Green & Blacks removed the vegan symbol from a product which is basically vegan, but which is produced in the same factory they make their milk chocolate, so there’s a minor risk of cross-contamination. I wonder if the Vegan Society have an “official policy” on such things…

      Regarding the second point, I totally agree. Whereas labelling of vegetarian products has come a long way, there seems to be far less awareness regarding veganism in the food industry. It will probably take years to change, unless of course a mandatory scheme is introduced!

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