vegetarian and vegan

Calls for clarification of vegan and vegetarian labelling in NZ

The New Zealand Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society of Aotearoa have called for clear and concise food labelling of vegetarian and vegan products.

The societies claim there are several products on the market that carry misleading labels with words such as “plant-based”, “less dairy”, and “vegan”, which would lead consumers to believe that the product did not contain dairy, eggs, honey, gelatine or other animal products.

They state this is not always the case, and that consumers may buy a product only to read the ingredients label and discover the product is not vegan or 100 per cent plant-based at all.

Claire Insley, Media Spokesperson for the Vegan Society, said they are constantly receiving calls and emails from consumers and Society members regarding the issue of product labelling.

“We have written to the Food Standards Authority, the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Commerce Commission, to no avail.  No one cares. It is not just vegans who may need to avoid certain foods; this is also a problem for people who cannot read English very well and buy things based on pictures on the product.”

Incorrect labelling not only affects vegans and vegetarians, but also people with allergies, or Jewish and Muslim people, all of whom could ingest something they would rather not.

To address this concern the Vegan Society of Aotearoa and the NZ Vegetarian Society have created a petition to give to the Ministry for Primary Industries, who have repeatedly insisted that this issue is not a problem. 

It is hoped that the petition will lead to legislation requiring that food labels are clear and concise, only using the words “vegan” and “vegetarian” where appropriate, and banning the use of wording such as “less dairy”. The words “plant-based” should only be used for products that are 100 per cent plant-based, not products that have more plants than you might expect.

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