A vegan blogger in LA decided to go completely over-the-top and test food from their local allegedly-vegan eateries, and the results were terrifying. 10 of the restaurants came out okay, with no evidence of contamination with egg, caesin or shellfish in their food. Most of the others showed some contamination, usually egg (which is an especial problem for me), but one of them was a massive FAIL!, with the blogger concluding that it might be deliberate deception rather than accidental cross-contamination.
The main problem seems to lie in fake meats imported from Taiwan, where the labelling rules are less strict than in the US (or Europe) for that matter. The ingredients lists are usually translated directly from those on the packaging for the local market. The good news is that the Taiwanese government is aware of the problem and is in the process of implementing some of the strictest laws in the world regarding the packaging and labelling of vegetarian food. The Taiwanese “meats” might be dodgy right now, but in a few months things will be much better.
The other link is to a site which is the antithesis of vegan, but is still interesting from a general foodie point of view. The author of Fancy Fast Food takes standard meals from fast food places and messes around with the presentation to make them look like haute cuisine. Nothing is added to the meals to achieve this except the occasional simple garnish.
I got a response from the Japan Centre with respect to yesterday’s delivery. As I suspected, it was a genuine error—they were unaware that cochineal is made from insects, and were apologetic. They let me know that they will not only change the web page for that product, but are going to go through all their pink products just to make sure.
Anyone able to recommend a good (European) list of animal ingredients to which I can refer them?
I had a big box of stuff arrive from the Japan Centre this morning, including the painfully expensive rice and many things containing green tea. One item I got was ume soba—buckwheat noodles flavoured with plum, which the site mentions as being vegetarian. Unfortunately, they’re not, as that pretty pink colour comes from cochineal. I even checked the Japanese ingredient listing in case the importers had got the English language translation wrong (it happens), but コチニール is pretty clear.
Now, it’s hard enough for vegetarians and vegans to keep track of all those little ingredients which aren’t suitable, so I’m not going to have a go at them over the error. They do make more effort than other sites to point out the presence of fish, wheat, egg and all sorts of problematic ingredients. This post is really just to note that it’s there. I have made use of the contact form and politely let them know about it. It would be really helpful, not just for vegetarians and vegans, if they included full ingredients listings, too.