In a letter to The Guardian VEGA clarifies some of the finer points in beer, wine, fruit drinks and juices
Processing aids used for clarifying, fining, conditioning, chill-proofing, and filtering wines, beers, and fruit juices and drinks (letters, June 9 and 10) may be proteinaceous products such as collagen, gelatin, blood, and albumin derived from exploited and slaughtered animals. Alternatives are available, such as the mineral bentonite, which is like fuller’s earth. Labelling regulations at the moment exempt processing aids from inclusion in lists of ingredients on foods and, anyway, alcholic beverages are not required to carry details of ingredients at all. “Suitable for vegetarians” is a vague definition that may satisfy customers who are actually fishy, cheesy, dairy or eggytarians (or even quichytarians) but not real vegetarians, for whom there are informatively labelled beers and lagers conforming to the German Reinheitsgebot; some of these may be sold unfined.
Beers, like “vegetarian” cheese can be made in processes involving GM-materials, but most commerical brewers avoid trouble by shunning such techniques. Cheers!
Hon Research Adviser, VEGA
Note to Editor: This has been a long running subject of our concern. We are currently involved in debate in the SEAC on producing material for finings and other purposes from British cattle over which doubts over BSE linger.