A Mars Bar a day? No longer an option if you are vegetarian
Perhaps there was a sense that the major battles facing Britain's vegetarians had been won. Veterans recall the fight for better labelling along with the quest for menu choices that didn't begin and end with ambiguous lentil bake.
Yesterday, 200 years after the Reverend William Cowherd first publicly advanced the principle of abstinence from flesh-eating, senior figures in the vegetarian movement found themselves rallying the troops for one more skirmish.
On May 1, Masterfoods began using animal products in famous chocolate bars such as the Mars Bar, Bounty, Snickers, Twix and Milky Way. The taint also affects Maltesers and Minstrels, which have traces of whey - a product of cheesemaking which itself involves the use of rennet, a chemical from calves' stomachs. The recipe change also applies to the popular ice cream versions of the confectionery bars.
It means that for the diligent vegetarian, the products are all out of bounds.
The move has been strongly condemned by the Vegetarian Society which has urged its members to pressure Masterfoods to think again.
To help the company reach this period of reflection, the society has posted the number for Masterfoods' customer services department on its website. Members pining for their favourite chocolate bars are being advised to ring the multinational and "express your concern".
A spokesman for the Vegetarian Society said: "For some incomprehensible reason they are using animal products when all these items have previously been produced using vegetarian alternatives. There are about 3 million vegetarians in the UK which is a significant part of the UK market. It is very disappointing that Masterfoods products are no longer vegetarian friendly. We hope the company will reconsider this move."
There is no sign of an early retreat but Paul Goalby, corporate affairs manager for Masterfoods, said the company at least deserved credit for being honest.
"Since changing the sourcing of our ingredients we are no longer able to ensure our chocolate will be animal rennet-free and so we made the principled decision to admit it was not guaranteed to be vegetarian," he said.
"If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable but a less strict vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate."
He told the Grocer magazine that products with a "best-before" date up to October 1 are still suitable for vegetarians. The company is also offering a refund to those who cannot eat animal rennet on bars that have a later best-before date.
The vegetarian with a sweet tooth has long lived a perilous life. Many boiled sweets and mints contain gelatine. Boiled confectionery and other popular sweets can contain the colouring cochineal, which is made from insects.
Source: Guardian Unlimited