gone are the days when chocolate was just chocolate!

Okay – that is quite an emotive headline, but how else can I hit home the fact that one of the world’s leading confectionary companies has just tried to quietly sneak through a major ingredient change in one of the UK’s most popular chocolates?!

From this month, chocolate manufacturer Masterfoods which makes Mars bars has started using rennet – an enzyme taken from the stomachs of newborn calves – to make whey for its products.

Other big brands from the same company – including Snickers, Galaxy, Twix, Bounty, Milky Way, Maltesers and Minstrels – are also affected.

Vegetarians now plan to boycott Mars bars and these products after their recipe was quietly changed to include animal products presumably on the ground of lower cost.

The peculiar thing is that the company has been making three millions Mars bars a day using a readily available, but more expensive vegetarian alternative to rennet.

The company is yet to give a clear and good reason for the change. What is most puzzling and surely an own goal for Masters Foods is the statement below on its own website:-

“From May 1, we are changing the source of the whey which is used in our chocolate confectionery and ice-cream products to include some animal-sourced whey. We are making this change to ensure the quality and availability of the supply of whey in the future.

The whey we will be using is the same kind of whey which is used in the majority of cheese, which many vegetarians eat. Therefore all those vegetarians who are content to eat all varieties of cheese can continue to enjoy our products.”

The company website also lists all those products no longer suitable for vegetarians.

So should vegetarians now suddenly start eating their chocolate bars made using animal whey just because they have been supposedly content to eat all varieties of cheese before?!

What Master Foods do not seem to have realised is that in vegetarianism there is no half way house – either you are one or you are not.

A vegetarian may have chosen to be a vegetarian for a number of reasons – cultural, religious, ethical, taste, love of animals, healthy living etc, and he or she should not have to compromise just because a manufacturer decides that they are already “content” with eating a certain ingredient.

It also begs the question – just what else do they put in their products?!

In the days of corporate social responsibility with more and more companies doing the “right” thing, this is a renegade backward step by Masterfoods. Perhaps they will reconsider soon.

Rather than isolating a growing and key group of consumers, major companies should be doing more than ever before to work with the most important people in their business – their customers.

In the meantime, next time you are about to bite into a Mars bar, think about that poor calf whose stomach lining was used to make just that Mars bar 🙁

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