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FSAI issues warning about possible presence of animal ingredients in vegan products

By James Fenton

September 28, 2020 at 4:59pm

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The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has issued a warning about the possible presence of animal ingredients in vegan products.

In a statement issued on Monday, the FSAI warned consumers who might be allergic or intolerant of certain animal-derived products such as egg, milk, fish, molluscs and crustaceans that some products described as 'vegan' might contain these items.

The statement said that 'consumers sometimes assume that a food declared as vegan contains absolutely no ingredients of animal origin, in line with the ethos of veganism. This is not always the case, as low-level accidental cross-contamination from animal-based allergens can occur during the production process.'

It goes on to say that 'the term “vegan” is not defined in EU or Irish food law and therefore, there are no limits set out in food law about the proportion of animal-derived ingredients permitted in such food. The FSAI is also urging food businesses who make vegan-labelled food to double their efforts to ensure that their production and packaging processes are sufficient to minimise the risk of cross-contamination with animal-derived ingredients.'

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the FSAI said that 'consumers who are allergic to or intolerant of egg, milk, fish, molluscs or crustaceans need to be alert to the possibility that a food declared as “vegan” may contain small amounts of these animal-derived ingredients and therefore, they are not always safe for them to eat.'

She added that 'the five (aforementioned) animal-derived food allergens must be declared at all times when used as ingredients to produce food. However, if a food is accidentally cross-contaminated, this will not be the case. Consumers who have an allergy or intolerance to an animal-derived food may be drawn to buying foods declared as vegan thinking that they are safe to eat. Despite the best hygiene controls being applied correctly, cross-contamination of a vegan food with low levels of animal-derived ingredients is always a possibility.'

The full statement issued today by the FSAI can be found here.

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