Vegan and vegetarian: New certification marks for food
SGS has created a certification mark for labelling vegan and vegetarian foods. The label provides consumers a reliable guide when shopping: with just a glance they can see that the product is suitable for vegan or vegetarian nutrition.
Already eight million German citizens are vegan or vegetarian – and the number is growing. Yet, when shopping it is sometimes difficult to see whether a food that appears to be purely plant-based may still have come into contact with animal products. This is why the international testing and certification company SGS has created new certification marks for vegan and vegetarian foods. The seal is given exclusively to food and beverages that have been independently verified according to a strict list of criteria. Labelling provides a reliable guide to consumers and allows manufacturers to clearly position their products for the respective target group.
Easier orientation when shopping
The new, voluntary certification mark "For vegetarian / vegan nutrition" closes a gap in current food legislation: today there is no binding definition for labeling on either a national or European level. That is why, when it comes to inspecting products, the independent testing institute SGS follows a guideline issued by the German Ministerial Conference on Consumer Protection from May 2016. According to this guideline, substances of animal origin are not allowed at any stage of processing.
There are many examples of "hidden" ingredients from animal origin. For example, gelatin is often used to clarify fruit juices or beer. Anchovies, or small fillets of fish preserved in salt, give many savory sauces a tangy note. Both of these products would be a "no-go" for devoted vegan or vegetarians. Several of the discussions in relevant Internet forums and in social media show how strong the consumers' demand for information really is.
A rigorous verification process on a voluntary basis
Before receiving the seal, products undergo a comprehensive verification process repeated at least once every year. The independent testing company SGS, which owns the laboratories of SGS Institut Fresenius, among others, are responsible for verification. "We test all of the ingredients and raw materials for animal substances and even do a thorough check-up of non-declarable additives," explains Marta Schlichting of the SGS testing institute. In addition, "A veggie product may only carry our certification mark 'For vegan nutrition' when its labels and packaging are also free of animal substances."
The test program is made up of several components and based on a label review as well as an examination of numerous documents and specifications. Formulations and production protocols are also checked. On-site inspections at the manufacturing facility and supplemental laboratory tests are also an option. Furthermore, it is important that employees have verifiably received precise instructions for handling vegan foods. Voluntary product tests are now possible for the labels "For vegetarian nutrition" and "For vegan nutrition."
SGS Germany GmbH
t +49 40 30101 297