Which chocolate is safe for vegetarians?

PUBLIC pressure has forced Masterfoods- makers of Mars, Snickers, Maltesers, and Galaxy - to reverse its recent decision to start using animal rennet. So what chocolate is now safe for vegetarians?

By Tracey Sparling

PUBLIC pressure has forced Masterfoods- makers of Mars, Snickers, Maltesers, and Galaxy - to reverse its recent decision to start using animal rennet. So what chocolate is now safe for vegetarians?

Features editor TRACEY SPARLING gets the low down during National Vegetarian Week (May 21 -27).

FROM this month , chocolate manufacturer Masterfoods started using rennet - an enzyme taken from the stomachs of newborn calves - to make whey for products including Mars, Snickers, Galaxy, Twix, Bounty, Milky Way, Maltesers and Minstrels.

It had previously been relying on the vegetarian alternative to rennet - which is more expensive.

The Vegetarian Society called it a 'step backwards' and urged people to ring Masterfoods' customer services to complain. In the space of a few days the public outcry led Masterfoods into consultations with The Vegetarian Society UK. The result was a public apology from Mars over the weekend and an announcement that the changes to make all the confectionery vegetarian again would start at the firm's plant in Slough from Monday .

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A spokesman for Masterfoods said today: “Currently we cannot guarantee that our products contain vegetarian rennet. However, we are starting to change our manufacturing process with immediate effect. We want to get our vegetarian products on the shelves as soon as possible.

“During this process of changing the recipes we will provide updates on this consumer care website, on a regular basis. If you are not sure about the suitability of our products please call us on 0845 0450042.”

He added: “This change was a mistake and we are sorry that we may have prevented consumers from enjoying the products they've always enjoyed.”

Peter Lakey, chairman of The Vegetarian Society UK, and a Trimley resident, said: “We are very pleased that Mars responded so quickly to the genuine concerns of so many vegetarians. It means that in the future nobody will have to eat content from dead calves' stomachs in their chocolate bars. And I guess that that will please more than just vegetarians.

“The reversal couldn't have come at a better time: National Vegetarian Week. Our theme this year is much bigger than chocolate bars - it's the huge impact vegetarianism can have on climate change. Cutting meat from your diet is probably the single biggest step individuals can take to tread more lightly on this earth. Vegetarianism helps to reduce greenhouse gasses, conserve water and conserve land, including the rainforests. All this, and a reduction in animal suffering, less factory farming and better individual health too - there's such a lot going for vegetarianism, including good food!”

The Reverend William Cowherd first publicly advanced the principle of abstinence from meat eating, in 1809. He had established the Bible Christian Church, in Salford, and his congregation had to take a vow not to eat meat. Chapels were also established in Manchester.

The central idea of vegetarianism - that there is a kinship of all nature - stretches back 2500 years to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras.

Source: www.ivu.org/history/England

Masterfoods (Division of Mars UK Limited) was formed in January 2002 by the merger of Mars Confectionery and Pedigree Masterfoods.

Its chocolate plant is in Slough, Berkshire, with two factories making products including three million Mars bars a day, 2,000 staff and one of the largest open plan offices in Europe. Its ice cream products are made at a factory in France. At Melton Mowbray and Peterborough it produces over four million packs of pet care products each day including Pedigree Chum and Whiskas- making Melton Mowbray one of the largest and fastest petfood production plants in the world. Its factory in King's Lynn produces Uncle Bens and Dolmio.

Suitable for vegetarians

Aquadrops

Skittles Fruit

Starburst Sours/fuits/srawberry

Tunes blackcurrant/cherry/strawberry

Lockets blackcurrant/ extra strong/ honey & lemon

Starburst ice cream: all varieties

Mars Original drink/ extra chocolate/ thick shake

Galaxy smooth and creamy/ thick shake

Bounty Frappe

Bounty drink

Galaxy hot chocolate drink/ hot chocolate with caramel/ hot chocolate Bliss

Maltesers hot chocolate drink

Mars bars

Snickers bars

Galaxy

Minstrels

Maltesers

Revels

Ripple

For more approved products see www.vegsoc.org/seedling.html

Not Suitable for vegetarians:

M&Ms all varieties

Skittles Sours / Rainbow

Twix

Bounty

Celebrations

Many boiled sweets and mints contain gelatine.

Boiled sweets can contain the colouring cochineal, which is made from insects.

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