Vegetarian foods that contain Meat

Are your store-bought Vegetarian foods REALLY Vegetarian?

Special thanks to Supriya Kelkar for the following information. When I first
received it, from several sources, I considered it another "urban legend"
sort of thing. But Supriva had actually called food manufacturers and
verified this, and supplied me with complete documentation that this is
true. Here's her first letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing to inform you about a salient but well-hidden health issue that
I think you would find very informative. I came across the subject when I was eating a store-bought item that had a very "meaty" taste to it. A strict vegetarian, I immediately checked the ingredients to make sure I hadn't made a mistake in my purchase. There was no meat listed under the ingredients, but there was a listing that I had always found very mysterious: "flavors".

I called the company, and was told that there was meat in the product. I
asked why the meat wasn't listed in the ingredients. The company
representative informed me that meat is often placed under the label
" flavors", "natural flavors", or "artificial flavors", (an artificial flavor
generally still has natural products in it, as only a certain percentage of
it is artificial). I asked how this was possible. She told me that it was
completely legal, and in checking with the FDA and ! other sources, it is. As
long as the product being masked under "natural/artificial flavors" is not a
common allergen, the company does not have to disclose that it is in the
food item.

I began to call other leading food companies only to find that a great
majority of them including Lipton, Prego (which does not make a single
vegetarian pasta sauce), and Campbell's (the parent company of Prego, itself
making only two vegetarian soups out of its numerous lines of soup), have
meat products under their "flavors". Most of the companies responded
indifferently. They did not seem to find it a problem that they were
misleading millions of American consumers on a daily basis as long as they
followed FDA guidelines. Still others, like Kraft, replied that they do not
even keep track of what¹s in their "flavors" because they change so often.

As a representative of a socially conscious organization, I wanted to inform
you of the i! ssue, in hopes that you will be able to spread the word amongst
your organization. Please feel free to contact me for responses from the
companies, and any other questions. Thank you for your time.


So after not finding this issue on
I contacted Supriya. It seems she DID contact
these companies herself, and wasn't just passing along something she'd found
lying in her e-mailbox. Here¹s her reply:


Dear Jim,

There is a website of vegetarian lawyers who've been petitioning the FDA for
4 years now to change the labelling on a product. Unfortunately, until more
people complain, the FDA is not going to change their practices. Here is
their website:

There is a book that was a top ten bestseller a couple years ago called
" Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser with a chapter on the flavor industry.
He goes into detail about the industry's secrecy, and was the reason the
lawsuit against McDonalds was filed for beef in the fries.

Finally, below are a couple letters from some companies I contacted.

Date: Tue, 25 Feb 03 14:40:19
Subject: Re: 1770632A

M/M Supriya Kelkar, we received your message and appreciate your taking the
time to contact Campbell Soup Company about our Prego Pasta Sauce.

Because product ingredients change frequently, we cannot maintain current
lists of products which lack certain ingredients.

However, the following products are considered vegetarian:

Campbell's Tomato Juice
Pace Picante Sauce
Pace Thick & Chunky Salsa
R&W Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
Soup At Hand Classic Tomato Soup
Swanson Vegetable Broth
V8 Juice
V8 Splash Juice

We hope this information is helpful to you. We appreciate feedback like
yours becau! se it helps us become aware of consumer preferences and concern.


Harvey Steck