Nearly all the products we sell are vegan friendly. With the surge in popularity of the vegan diet we are getting lots of questions at the moment about our products being suitable for vegans. Everything we sell except our whey powders, a few of our milk and white chocolates and our bee pollen are vegan friendly.
However, you may have noticed that some of our product labels say “May contain traces of milk” but in our product description we’ve recommended that same product for people following a vegan diet and lifestyle. We’d like to explain this in more detail.
Firstly, What is Veganism?
Veganism is a way of living which strives to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. It means removing all animal produce, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, animal milks, honey, and their derivatives from one’s diet.
So why do we say “may contain traces of milk” on the products that are packed in our facility?
The majority of our products are packed in the same building. However, the products which contain animal products are packed separately to the rest of our product range in a specific room, on a different floor in our building. We also follow a very strict clean down process after packing each product. However, because of Allergen laws we err on the side of caution and display relevant allergens that the the *Food Standards Agency has laid out for us (these being Milk, Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds and Sulphites at Real Food Source), we do not pack any gluten containing products in our facility. However minuscule the chance of cross contamination may be, we realise the importance of making this known to the 2 million people or more who currently have food allergies in the UK.
Where a product is packed externally by a supplier we do all the due diligence and label accordingly. Our coconut milk powders and all liquid goods are packed by our suppliers that do not handle dairy which is why these products do not have the “may contain traces of milk” as an allergen.
What is The Vegan Friendly Stamp and similar stamps then and could we use it?
*In order for a product to be eligible for a Vegan Friendly Stamp from The Vegan Society it needs to fulfil a number of different criteria. These include the following:
- the product must not contain any animal products (this refers to any material derived from the body of an animal – both vertebrates and all multicellular invertebrates)
- the product must not have been tested on any animals
- strictly no animal genes or animal-derived substances must have been involved in the development of any GMOs
- the production of any vegan meals must be done in a separate area with separate utensils (or the same utensils if cleaned thoroughly) to meals containing any animal products.
We would meet all these criteria.
Specifically with the “may contain traces”, *The Vegan Society also say they do not have a problem with foods labels containing both the words vegan and the ‘may contain’ warning about animal allergies. They encourage manufacturers to “give a serious commitment to avoiding cross-contamination with animal substances” and to “strive to minimise cross contamination from animal substance used in non-vegan products as far as is reasonably practicable.”
Again, all of which we comply with.
Why Do We Not Stamp our Packaging with Accredited “Vegan Friendly/Gluten Free/Paleo/Primal” and Similar Stamps then?
Simply because having these accreditations increases the cost of our goods and our number one goal as a business is to source superb real foods from around the world and make them available at the best possible prices online so we can make healthy eating affordable and easy for everyone. While we pay for our organic certification which is a legal requirement to label our foods as organic, paying the optional dietary bodies for membership with our costs to administer that membership are significant and it simply increases the cost of the food we sell substantially for our customers. For example, our organic certification costs us £2,000 but the administration of being organically certified is approximately £12,000 a year for us. We believe it would be similar for each dietary body we sign up for. We also think, because there is no legal need behind it there are now far too many dietary certifiers (quite often for the same diet) which is beginning to make it confusing for consumers. Here at the RealFoodSource we are also dietary agnostic, believing that everyone is different and a diet that works for one person may not work for someone else. With this in mind we simply provide as much information on our food products that we can so customers can make their own informed choice on the foods they purchase for the diet they choose to follow.