Why reading a product’s ingredient panel doesn’t always tell the full story

Why is Certification Important?

Food production has become highly complex. Many ingredients are used in seemingly simply food products that are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians. For example, gelatin(e), an ingredient often used in many products including candies and yogurts, is usually made from the remnants of cattle, pigs or horses.

Tallow, which is often used as a lubricant, is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat. Cheese contains rennet, a coagulant, which is often made from pieces of the stomach lining of certain animals. Even carmine/cochineal, which is used as a dye, is actually crushed up beetles (yes, you read that correctly).

Why Can’t I Just Read the Ingredients?

Simply reading the list of ingredients on food packaging does not always ensure that a particular product is free from animal ingredients for three main reasons:

  1. Certain ingredients that are very commonly used in the food manufacture process, such as glycerine, can be animal or vegetable based, and a consumer would have almost no way of knowing which was used by reading the product’s label.
  2. If an ingredient contained in a product is used in a small proportion, governments may not require that they be listed on the package. Therefore, a consumer could unknowingly be eating an animal based ingredient even if they read the product’s ingredients carefully.
  3. Machinery is often shared between production runs and, unless it is thoroughly cleaned between these runs, there could be cross contamination from animal based food items produced on the same machinery.

With so many details, it might make a vegan or vegetarian swear off store bought food forever. Fortunately, consumers don’t have to feel overwhelmed because VegeCert has taken much of the guesswork out of shopping at the grocery store. If you see the VegeCert logo, rest assured that the product is in line with your vegan or vegetarian standards.