Mass confusion over vegan labelling ‘life-threatening’

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Almost three quarters of UK consumers believe vegan food has no animal ingredients, according to High Speed Training
Almost three quarters of UK consumers believe vegan food has no animal ingredients, according to High Speed Training

Related tags allergens meat-free

Almost three quarters of consumers believe vegan food products contain no ingredients derived from animals, highlighting the potential risk to people with food allergies in the absence of vegan labelling laws, according to a new study.

A survey of 2,187 UK participants by allergen awareness training provider High Speed Training found that 72% of respondents – and 75% of those with a food allergy – believed vegan food was free from animal ingredients and therefore safe to eat by individuals with allergies to milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans or molluscs.

However, the reality of food production processes can lead to the presence of animal-based allergens in vegan products – products could become cross contaminated if produced in the same factory or handled in the same facility as animal-based products.

High Speed Training said the misalignment between public views and reality was directly linked to a current lack of a legal definition of vegan food and without one that strictly prohibits any presence of animal-derived ingredients, the public cannot be sure that what they’re eating is in line with their beliefs and dietary requirements.


Dr. Richard Anderson, head of learning and development at High Speed Training, said “Ultimately, a lack of understanding or clarity on what a food label, such as ‘vegan’, entails can be life-threatening.

“Our report shows that there is currently a widespread and potentially dangerous misconception into what a ‘vegan’ label means for the food product on which it’s placed, with the vast majority of people believing that vegan food is safe for individuals with animal-based allergies, such as milk or eggs, to eat.

“As this is not the case, it’s paramount we act to reduce this misunderstanding and protect the health of allergy sufferers.”

Raising awareness

The Food Standards Agency has published new food allergen labelling and information technical guidance,​as the Food and Drink Federation revealed its own set of allergen labelling guidelines supporting the agency’s update.

“While our report is helpful in raising awareness of the current reality behind vegan labelling and reducing misconceptions, we advocate for a change in the law to introduce a clear definition of vegan food,”​ Anderson added.

“This is the best way to ensure consumers can make informed dietary decisions and protect their health.”

Meanwhile, Food Manufacture looked at how vegan labelling has caused confusion among food hypersensitive consumers​and asked experts what more can be done to ensure that people suffering from allergens feel safe and informed.

Related topics Food Safety Allergens

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast