A vegetarian friend of mine once finished a jar of roasted peanuts, then idly glanced at the label, only to find that the ingredients included gelatin. He became incensed and immediately dashed off a letter to the company, the highlights of which included the rhetorical question, “If you’re going to put DEAD COWS in your peanuts, please place a picture of a DEAD COW on the label so that people are alerted to the presence of DEAD COWS in your peanuts.”
Needless to say, the company did not write him back.
For vegetarians, vegans, allergy-sufferers, and the like, the packaged food world is a minefield. In Great Britain, Masterfoods, the company that makes Mars candy bars (Milky Ways to you, pal), recently rejiggered the formula of several types of chocolate to include animal rennet, an ingredient used in cheesemaking that consists of enzymes extracted from a calf’s stomach.
Vegetarians have been protesting the news, but Masterfoods is standing firm.
Paul Goalby, corporate affairs manager for Masterfoods, said the company at least deserved credit for being honest.
No comment. He went on to metaphorically tell his critics to bugger off, but in the nicest possible way.
‘If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable but a less strict vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate.’
In a follow-up, the Guardian lists nine products that are surprisingly unvegetarian, from “beefy” breakfast cereal (Kellogg’s Frosted Wheats contain gelatin) to—sniff—Guinness, which is clarified with isinglass (not the lair of Saruman, it turns out, but a form of collagen that “hails from the swimbladders of fish”).
Caveat: The products discussed in these articles are the British versions; in the United States, formulas and ingredients may be different. Read those labels, folks.