Jane Unchained News: What Does “May Contain” Mean on Vegan Certified Products?
Shouldn’t a certified vegan product be free from “may contain” claims? How many times are you confused by a vegan claim that also says “may contain” milk, eggs, or lactose? The short answer is that trusted vegan certified claims should not also have a “may contain” claim next to it.
The consumer will eventually learn there is a difference in the labels they see, and not all labels are created equally. In time, the consumer will also learn vegan certified products should not also have “may contain” disclaimers as that negates the certification and the cause.
While existing allergen alibi labelling laws may require a disclaimer due to shared facilities and machineries, that alibi warning needs to be insightful to the consumer, and not confusing. Warnings next to vegan certified claims tarnish the vegan claim and mislead the allergen customer.
“It is about having controls in place to keep manufacturing facility practices accountable to vegan protocol, with the same care they give to gluten free products and kosher products coming out of their shared facilities. A shared facility audited for gluten contamination can claim gluten free after inspection, and that same thought process should apply for animal allergen free, if the vegan certification standard audited the facility and did a proper risk assessment to ensure the products made there are free from animal residue,” says Carissa Kranz, BeVeg attorney founder and CEO.
The BeVeg vegan technical standard considers allergen controls and requires procedures to be in place that contemplate physical segregation from products of animal origin, time separation on machinery with shared production lines, color-coding of equipment, dedicated vegan policies, and hygiene practices that extend beyond a mere paperwork ingredient review process. Manufacturing facilities must have clear HACCP (food safety) systems in place to protect BeVeg vegan claim integrity. It is not enough to just do a paperwork review of ingredients and suppliers submitted.
“Already, the law doesn’t require full ingredient disclosure,” says Kranz. The BeVeg standard considers not only the full supply chain, but also factory standard operating procedures to ensure strict adherence to the approved vegan list of ingredients and that no contamination with animal material will happen during the mixing, storing, packaging, cleaning, and production processes.
“Since BeVeg requires a HACCP plan that contemplates and considers BeVeg vegan standard technical requirements as part of facility standard operating procedures, There should be no need to tarnish a vegan claim with “may contain” because it should not contain. Those that suffer from animal allergens (like milk or shellfish) should be able to trust a BeVeg certified vegan claim,” says Heather Landex, global food safety expert and BeVeg Chief Compliance Advisor.
The BeVeg vegan technical standard is the first in the world to gain ISO accreditation in accordance with ISO 17065 and 17067 as a conformity assessment program. BeVeg has a robust vegan certification standard and process that keeps manufacturing facilities accountable to their vegan claims, despite shared facility space, so there should be no animal contamination residue in a final BeVeg certified vegan product.
“Isn’t that the point of certification — the ability to make a claim with certainty?” questions Landex. There are very few restaurants and stores demanding products without “may-contain” warnings, and other vegan trademarks accept these warnings, and therefore the status-quo is confusing to the consumer, and “tarnishes the credibility of the vegan claim,” says Landex.
Allergy management and the accredited Beveg vegan standard is a very big step up in global food safety standards and quality control. Despite ‘may contain’ labels and allergen management standards, the reality is, the industry largely disregards animal product contamination. “Other vegan trademarks that do not audit the facilities simply cannot assess contamination risk or ensure proper vegan quality control,” says Landex.
Consumers want transparency. Businesses are mindful of allergen legalities and want zero liability. These interests are at odds. Perhaps the answer is an allergy alibi warning that is made with more information. Certified vegan claims that require risk assessment audits should not confuse the claim with may contain language, but rather substantiate it with real insightful information. Like, “made in the same factory, on separate machines, in separate areas,” says Landex.
“May contain is confusing. It should not contain. Likewise, all vegan factories should be able to guarantee “free-from” and display a globally accredited vegan trademark proudly on their packaging, without worry of an expensive product recall or misleading an animal allergen consumer,” says Kranz.
“This is the point of certification,” reiterates, attorney Kranz.
If you have a vegan product, make your claim official with BeVeg. The only globally accredited vegan trademark and standard in the world by ISO 17065 and 17067.
This article was originally posted on Jane Unchained News