Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Legal Definition of Vegan Considered by Govt

Govt response to petition

We have recieved a response from the UK Govt. on the subject of facillitating a Legal Definition of the word Vegan for labelling purposes.

The UK Govt. have agreed there is a framework within Technical Standards Directive 98/34/EC for introducing a national standard as there is with Organic but wish to wait to see how well the voluntary guidelines introduced by the FSA have been utilised. Meanwhile the overburdened Trading Standards officers have little legal backing when prosecuting manufacturers for including animal ingredients in products marked for vegetarian and vegan consumers.

Here is the UK Government response:

The Government are aware of consumers' concern over honest labelling, particularly in regard to the use of the terms 'vegetarian' and 'vegan'. After meeting with representatives of consumers, industry, enforcement, several religious groups and the Vegetarian and Vegan Societies and following a full public consultation, the Food Standards Agency published Guidance on the Use of the Terms 'Vegetarian' and 'Vegan' in Food Labelling in April 2006. The Guidance aims to assist manufacturers, retailers and caterers to use the terms in a consistent way, which in turn will make it easier for consumers to understand.

The guidance is best practice advice and it remains the decision of the manufacturer whether or not to make this declaration if their product fulfils the criteria in the guidance.

Any labelling of food or drink products as 'vegetarian' or 'vegan' is voluntary. However, consumers are protected by general legal provisions outlawing false or misleading labelling in UK legislation. The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended), the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, and Article 16 of European Union Regulation 178/2002/EC must be complied with if such labelling is used.

It may be possible for the UK to introduce national measures regarding labelling with the terms 'vegetarian' or 'vegan', subject to the notification and acceptance procedures set out in the Technical Standards Directive 98/34/EC. However, we wish to see whether voluntary criteria as set out in the guidance published in 2006 are effective in improving labelling and increasing consumer confidence. The guidance will be subject to periodic review.

In answer to MiV / Foods for Life petition.

Vegan Labelling - Vegan Nutrition - New Product Development

"The Government has confirmed there is no legal definition of 'Vegan' or 'vegetarian' in the EU or UK. We call upon the Govt to draw up a framework using the model of 'Organic' and The Indian Government's experiences to create a legal definition for 'vegan' and 'vegetarian'."

No comments: