View Full Version : Food Standards Agency - new rules for the food labelling

Oct 18th, 2004, 11:26 AM
This may be of more interest to those UK'ers amongst us.

Finding a yoghurt without any meat in it can be murder

By Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor, October 18, 2004, timesonline.co.uk

THE Food Standards Agency is attempting to broker an agreement with supermarkets and manufacturers over new rules for the labelling of vegetarian and vegan foods.
At present there is no definition of foods that are “suitable for vegetarians”. The only requirement, a provision in the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, is that labels should not be misleading. This anomaly is of concern to vegetarians, vegans and religious groups such as the Hindu and Jewish communities, because many foods that are labelled suitable for vegetarians are not acceptable to them.

Full ARTICLE (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1314887,00.html)

Oct 18th, 2004, 01:32 PM
this is very interesting, thanks gert. :cool:

Norman Baker, mentioned in the article as he is trying to get a legal definition of 'vegetarian', is quite a prominent figure in politics in my local area. he says a lot of good things, although i'm somewhat disappointed to see he calls himself a "fish-eating vegetarian" :o

the article also seemed to ignore something i have heard, that if a product contains less than 5% slaughter by-products it can be labelled as vegetarian. this is how Pizza Hut can claim that their cheese pizzas do not contain meat or fish, but the tomato sauce is apparently made with meat stock. :( i hope this is something the law will address.

sort of on the same subject - on Watchdog the other day a veggie had complained that they'd bought a Quorn cottage pie, and it turned out to be a meat cotage pie in the wrong packaging. bleugh! another reason not to buy Quorn!

Oct 19th, 2004, 10:35 AM
Thank you for that article gertvegan. I've put it into the Updates page of veganic's Vegan Voice.

Nov 12th, 2004, 05:45 PM
UK: FSA to draft advice on vegetarian and vegan labelling

12 Nov 2004 , www.just-food.com (http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=59194)

The UK’s Food Standards Agency is to draft best practice advice on vegetarian and vegan labelling that will include advisory definitions of these terms.

The draft advice will be sent out for a full public consultation in the summer of 2005.

“The Agency has been aware of consumer concerns relating to food being labelled as suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and held a stakeholder meeting to discuss vegetarian and vegan labelling on 12 October 2004,” the FSA said.

Notes of stakeholder meeting on vegetarian and vegan labelling (http://www.food.gov.uk/foodlabelling/researchandreports/vegveganlabelstakemeet)

Nov 12th, 2004, 06:02 PM
'Bout time!

pat sommer
Oct 25th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Does anyone know if the EU has a legal definition for vegan yet? This was proposed a decade ago. How about the U.S.? I'll write a cheque to any group lobbying on this!

Oct 26th, 2005, 10:03 PM
I wish ALL restaurants understood the label "vegetarian" and "vegan." I'd been eating at a local Chinese restaurant for years, eating their "vegetarian" dish of bean curd and veggies. Today I ate some, but when I got done, I started thinking about posts I've read and noticed that the sauce left in the dish looked kinda greasy. When I went up to pay, I asked the proprietor if the dish had any chicken broth/fat in it. She said yes and I got highly annoyed. I pointed out that that is NOT vegetarian and she said, "that's not meat; we've told lots of vegetarians about the chicken broth and they're OK with it, so it is OK to have chicken broth in a vegetarian meal":eek: I assured her that such people are NOT really vegetarians and that she had NEVER told me about the chicken broth. She said that the dish wouldn't taste good if you only cooked it in water and I pointed out that some sauces--such as soy sauce--have absolutely NO animal products in them. She just acted like I was nuts, but now it makes sense to me why I always felt a touch nauseous after eating there--my stomach isn't keen on animal products!

Apr 7th, 2006, 07:42 PM

Apr 9th, 2006, 02:36 PM
That's a good step forward!
You can see the FSA's guidance as to what should be called vegetarian and vegan here: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/vegitermsgn.pdf

Apr 9th, 2006, 04:32 PM
Bearing in mind that the founders of the Vegan Society also actually invented the word vegan, I would have thought that the Vegan Society's definition should have been given a little more prominence in the Food Standards guidance.

Generally speaking in law, when a case depends on the definition of a word but the word hasn't been defined in the legislation (probably the majority of cases probably) then the principle is that the ordinary English usage of the word applies (in English law anyway!). For the word 'vegan' I would have thought it was pretty clear that this would be the Vegan Society's definition and this should really have been reflected in the guidance.

Nov 24th, 2006, 05:14 PM
What would be the best way to go about trying to get legal definitions of vegetarian and vegan implemented? The way I see it the fact that they aren't prevents any laws being passed that could benifit us.

I did a search on google and read a couple of mentions of the vegetarian society trying to get it done (Nothing I could find about it on thier website though) but I couldn't find any real campaign to get it done, are there any?

Nov 26th, 2006, 04:00 AM
I wonder if the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation ( www.vvf.org.au ) might be the answer here. It really is annoying to find that what is offered as vegetarian contains chicken, or getting blank looks when one asks if they can offer a vegan dish.

Dec 1st, 2006, 06:23 AM
Sorry to post this here, but can't recall the origination of a posting from someone who suggested there should be some proper identification on foods (came about after eating a vege meal at a Chinese restaurant, only to discover there was chicken in it!).

I emailed Dr Justine Butler, Health Campaigner of the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation (Bristol), and here is her reply:

"Thanks for your email. On 6 April 2006 the Food Standards Agency published guidance designed to improve food labelling for vegans and vegetarians providing "official" criteria for the use of the terms vegetarian and vegan on food labels for the first time.

FSA issues new vegetarian and vegan guidance for food labelling
Ref: 2006/0642

The Food Standards Agency has published new guidance for manufacturers, caterers and enforcement authorities to improve food labelling for vegans and vegetarians. The guidance, drawn up after consultation with a range of stakeholders including The Vegetarian Society and The Vegan Society, will provide criteria for the use of the terms 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' on food labels for the first time.

There are approximately 3.5 million vegetarians and 0.25 million vegans in the UK. The guidance should make it easier for these consumers to identify the products that are suitable for them. It aims to improve consistency in the use of the terms on food labels by manufacturers and caterers and help enforcement agencies to identify misleading labelling.

The guidance should also help to prevent some common mistakes by companies such as labelling drink or food that has been derived from animal products or fish as suitable for 'vegans' and 'vegetarians'. Dr Richard Harding, Head of the FSA’s Consumer Choice, Food Standards and Special Projects Division said: 'There has been a lot of confusion over the use of the terms "vegetarian" and "vegan" on food labels both in the retail and catering sectors. The root cause of the problem seems to be the lack of agreed criteria. The guidance aims to improve consistency by providing criteria for the use of these terms in food labelling.'

Tina Fox, Chief Executive of The Vegetarian Society said: 'We all want to know what we are eating, and misleading labelling makes it particularly difficult for Britain's three million plus vegetarians and vegans to make informed choices. 'In the continuing absence of a definition of these terms in law, The Vegetarian Society sincerely hopes that the FSA's guidance is widely taken up by manufacturers, caterers, retailers and local enforcement authorities.'

George Rodger, Chair of The Vegan Society said: 'As more and more foods have become available in packaged form, vegans have had to become accustomed to reading long lists of ingredients to see whether or not a product is suitable for them. 'The new food-labelling guidance from the Food Standards Agency will make things so much easier. If a product is labelled ‘suitable for vegans’ in accordance with this guidance, they need look no further.' Notes to editors: The criteria for the use of the terms 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' in food labelling are set out in the guidance as:

Vegetarian: The term ‘vegetarian’ should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from, or with, the aid of products derived from animals that have died, have been slaughtered, or animals that die as a result of being eaten.
'Animals' means farmed, wild or domestic animals, including for example, livestock poultry, game, fish, shellfish, crustacea, amphibians, tunicates, echinoderms, molluscs and insects.

Vegan: The term 'vegan' should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from, or with, the aid of animals or animal products (including products from living animals).

Hope this helps
Best wishes

I'd like this response to be a "sticky" but don't know how to do that. :o

Dec 1st, 2006, 04:44 PM
Now we need to get the rest of the world on board! Sounds great... Next step is to eliminate all of the other food from shelves ;)