Menu Menu

Study finds milk or egg present in one third of vegan products

New analysis conducted by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has found that one in three meat substitutes labelled as a vegan product contains animal-derived ingredients, more specifically, milk and egg.

With so many plant-based brands popping up in grocery stores globally, it has never been easier to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Or so we thought.

New research conducted by the UK’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has found that one in three vegan-labelled products on sale in national grocery stores still contain milk or egg in their formula.

This is problematic because, when the organisation asked the public what a ‘vegan’ product should be, the vast majority (76 percent) said that a vegan label should indicated that the product it is totally free from animal-derived products. This includes milk, butter, eggs, fish, and shellfish.

At present, the UK has no legal guidelines attributed to what makes a product officially ‘vegan.’ Without these laws, food companies are able to falsely label items containing animal-derived products as vegan-friendly without consequence.

Misleading money-making scheme

Without a doubt, what we’re witnessing is food corporations looking to capitalise on a market that insofar has remained relatively niche, but highly profitable.

While it’s true that plant-based products have started lining up on shelves inside grocery stores around the world, comparing selections to traditional meat products shows that vegan-friendly ranges have been limited until the last five years or so.

In the UK, the sale of meat-free produce such as sausages and burger patties doubled from £289 million in 2017 to £586 million in 2021, according to analysis conducted by the market-research firm Mintel.

It’s clear that as the demand for meat-alternatives grows, more companies will be looking to capitalise further on the buzz. However, the lack of legal frameworks leave labelling guidelines murky – and that’s a problem.

What can consumers do?

Until clearer laws surrounding vegan foods are put into place, consumers will be forced to take responsibility into their own hands.

Before purchasing an item labelled as ‘vegan,’ rest assured that a quick scan of the ingredients list will be a sure-fire way of knowing whether an item has been deceptively categorised by the manufacturer.

UK law states that food companies must explicitly outline any allergens in their products in ingredient lists found on packaging labels. There are 14 allergens in this list – many of which are non-vegan – such as celery, crustaceans, eggs, fish, gluten, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, peanuts, sesame, soya beans, sulphites, and nuts.

If you notice a product mislabelled as vegan when it really isn’t, there are numerous organisations worth contacting such as the Advertising Standards Authority and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Stay safe out there ya’ll.