/ Food & Drink

Pork in my cereal bar – why didn’t you tell me?

When we investigated the nutritional content of cereal bars, we were surprised to see gelatine listed in the ingredients of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Squares. Are animal products lurking in your food?

As far as Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Squares go, the pork gelatine was in the marshmallows that form part of the bar.

However, at a glance this wasn’t clear to see as it wasn’t obviously labelled on the packaging (it was just listed in the ingredients of the marshmallow).

If I were to buy a cereal bar it wouldn’t occur to me that it might not be suitable for vegetarians.

Is that packet of crisps really vegetarian?

It got me thinking about the ingredients that you might not expect to see in foods. For example, Muller Light yoghurts contain gelatine as do Kellogg’s Frosted Wheats. And a Which? member got in touch to tell us about some cheese and onion crisps that contained rennet and so aren’t suitable for veggies… yes, that’s cheese and onion crisps.

In fact many cheeses, such as Parmesan, aren’t suitable for vegetarians as they contain rennet, used to coagulate the milk, which is from the stomach of calves.

It seems rennet and gelatine are the main ingredients that might trip up unsuspecting veggies. But many manufacturers have removed them from their products – Mars and Snickers no longer contain rennet and Polo mints removed gelatine from their ingredients years back. If some manufacturers can do it, why can’t others?

Of course, there are also the many foods that contain cochineal or carmine, a red food colouring derived from crushed beetles and labelled as E120, a natural additive on food labels.

So, do you know of any other products that you’d expect to be vegetarian, or even vegan, which aren’t because of ingredients used in the manufacturing process?

Comments
Guest
Longley Shopper says:
9 September 2012

I’m afraid this issue is very widespread and has been for decades if not centuries, but as we are getting “fussier” about our food – i.e. making sure that we cater for Halal or Kosher diets, dealing with vegetarians who are vegetarian on principle and won’t eat animal products, rather than just who don’t like and don’t eat meat in it’s unadulterated form, etc., we are discovering more and more of them.

Don’t get me wrong – we should cater for all diets and all dietary requirements and I my self am a vegetarian (though only the non-meat eating sort as I hate it, not the avoid all animal products at any cost sort), but it’s because we are being careful to cater for all these needs that we are finding all these issues.

However, moving strictly back to the question posed, the answer is reasonably simple: all products which really are vegetarian have the Vegetarian Society symbol on them. If that symbol isn’t shown then you should check very carefully to see what is in the product before you buy it.

Guest
Morag says:
9 September 2012

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years. I never expect anything to be veggie and always check. Most veggies know what sorts of things are typically booby trapped with gelatine, rennet, animal fat etc. and avoid them. It’s not really a surprise but it can be annoying at events where people and even caterers have put little thought into the food they are providing. My BIL recently got married and despite 8 of us being veggie, he failed miserably at providing anything we could eat at all at the reception and the only reason we ate at the wedding breakfast was because I phoned the caterers and organised our food with the head chef myself. *sigh*

Guest
Morag says:
9 September 2012

Although, the hotel thought Parmesan was veggie and had it in every single one of their “vegetarian” menu options!!

Guest

Sainsburys gooseberry fool yoghurts contain pork gelatine – OK it is listed in the ingredients list but honestly it never occurred to me to look when I bought it. Pork in a yoghurt? Yuk!

Guest

Great stuff, I’ll now have a cereal bar instead of a sausage sandwich for breakfast

Guest

🙂 I’ll second that!

Guest

Being a vegetarian for years, I was shocked to see that (a few years ago) Lea & Perrins stated their Worcestershire Sauce was vegetatian, despite having fish juice in it!!! Needless to say I wrote to them, along with many other vegeratians I told, furious. After a bitter, protracted argument, we were successful and they removed this statement. I would like to think it was down to us complaining, however I have a feeling it could also have been down to the Food Standards Agency and Advertising Standards Authority.

Guest
Faith Carpenter says:
10 September 2012

Are some people confusing veganism with vegetarianism? Vegans eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy. Vegetarians are perfectly happy to eat cheese, milk, eggs etc but no meat or fish and should be called Lacto-ovo-vegetarians. The rubbish that is in processed food should concern us all.