VEGA News Item

Special Deeds for Special Needs - 22/08/2005
Avoidable and needless denials must not restrict discriminating customers from choices in foods, supplements, and pet foods and feedstuff that manufacturers fail to anticipate and accomodate. VEGA expounds on the subject to the Food Standards Agency and Codex Alimentarius.
Re: Codex Committee of Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses

Manufacturers and authorities must take account that a single product may have more than one special significance. An AVM mark for components giving an animal-vegetable-mineral derivation would prompt manufacturers and retailers to pay more attention to this possibility; or the queries could be anticipated in some other helpful way.

Special foods are likely to find most significance for people with various aversions, e.g. those imposed by inherited anomalies or by the self-discipline informed by what might be generally classified as ethical or religious persuasions (the “conscientious objectors”) or by conditions of age or iatrogenic intervention or self-regard.

Consumers imbued with, say, vegetarian-style persuasions may deny themselves significant nutritional relevance because of their aversion to or suspicion of certain ingredients and components and processing and formulating agents. Parents and carers may act similarly over products essential for their babies and for children, adolescents, and women of child-bearing age, as well as the elderly; risks of anorexia and other eating disorders and nutritional deficiencies may develop disastrously. We have experience of this.

Particular ingredients and processing aids that cause (possibly needless) misgivings include (some entries featuring in composite words, such as glycerophosphate):
• Beeswax
• Buttermilk
• Calcium (e.g. in calcium phosphate)
• Caramels
• Casein (ate)
• Chitin, chitosan
• Citric acid (citrate)
• Cochineal
• Collagen
• Essential fatty acids (e.g. Omega3, 6, 9; DHA, EPA etc)
• Glycerine
• Honey
• Isinglass (finings used to clarify beverages)
• Lactic acid (lactate; also lactones)
• Lactobacillus
• Lactose
• Lanolin
• Lecithin
• Phosphoric acid (phosphate)
• Pollen
• Royal jelly
• Shellac
• Stearic acid (stearate)
• Vitamin B12 (hydroxo- or cyanocobalamin)
• Vitamin D (D2 or D3; ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol)
• Whey

The foregoing list comprehends substances of concern to consumers with interests in general animal welfare and environmental matters – the “meat-reducers and dairy-frees” and the seekers for “cruelty-free” learning from labelling and claims on cosmetics and toiletries (e.g. soaps and toothpastes) – and followers and practitioners of religious regimens (e.g. Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim). Further interests include aversions by some consumers to GM biotechnology and by others to perceptions of unduly high contents of sodium (say, by use of sodium iodide instead of the potassium salt or potassium iodate).

The enquiring public and discriminating consumer are likely also to give pause to sources of products such as glucosamine and chondroitin (which are increasingly used in preparations for people with special needs and, with less restraint in claims, for pets with special needs).

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