Like everyone, veggies enjoy a good old treat now and again. But what happens when you get a craving for an ice cream, or a chocolate bar, only to find out that you’re not sure whether or not you can actually eat it? For us veggies, this is a common problem and one I recently experienced. I was about to take a nice country walk on the cliffs and beach nearby where I live, and thought an ice cream would go down a treat. I walked into a local newsagents with a fellow vegetarian, only to find out that it’s near impossible to buy a pre-wrapped and made ice cream that specifies if the contents are suitable for vegetarians. I spent far too long by the sliding freezer section, reading packet after packet, without much luck until I stumbled across ‘Fab’ – a not so fab ice cream to eat, but the only one there that told me it was suitable for veggies.
I felt disappointed that my hand held, chocolate ice cream fantasy could not be fulfilled. In the freezer I looked in, there were two main brands responsible for my disappointment – Nestle and Wall’s Ice Cream. The Wall’s slogan that ‘Ice cream makes you happy’ felt almost mocking to me in the midst of my chocolate ice cream craving. I later decided to do some digging to see if I could find out if Nestle or Wall’s Ice Cream could give me further information online as to whether or not their ice-cream products were suitable for vegetarians.
On Nestle’s extensive website I tried to search ‘vegetarian’ with no results. I then clicked on their ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ and clicked on the most obvious question ‘Which of your products are suitable for restricted diets’ which then recommended the reader to click on their ‘Free From’ Lists, only to be told that ‘We’re sorry, but this page does not seem to exist’. After much searching around on their website, I finally found a vegetarian list! It actually exists! (here it is: http://www.nestle.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/DC786830-1030-4F26-BFB6-190D7DEA6E60/0/VegetarianList.pdf ).
However, annoyingly, there is no comprehensive information on their ice creams. In fact, after reviewing their hard to find vegetarian list, it has brought a number of queries to my mind that will be later explored in another blog entry – why do Nestle not make their consumers aware of whether or not their products are suitable for vegetarians?
Anyway, back to the ice cream conundrum. There is an insufficient and unclear list of ‘Yoghurts, Fromage Frais & Desserts’ which only include their Disney range. Are we to believe that every Nestle dessert/ice cream is not suitable for vegetarians? This is untrue as I bought a ‘Fab’ ice cream, a product of Nestle’s that I was able to eat. So if we cannot trust their online (and updated in September 2011) vegetarian list, what can we trust?
I was confronted with a similar scenario after investigating Wall’s Ice Cream. Their Cornetto & Magnum range (of which there was an abundance of in the freezer I mentioned earlier) did not indicate whether they were suitable. I went on their website and found no section dedicated to those with special dietary requirements. I have searched high and low on their very decorative and interesting website, but all I can find out under ‘nutritional information’ is the amount of calories and so on, that each of their ice creams contain. Under ‘Further Information’ for every product they list, this statement is given:
‘This nutrition data has been prepared using the most up to date information available at the time of publication. If your product packaging also bears nutrition information, you may occasionally see slight differences from the data on this website. This can be caused by minor recipe amendments. In these cases please always refer to the information on the actual pack.’
My bug bear is, there isn’t any indication of vegetarian awareness on either their packaging or online nutritional/ingredient information. I have not checked every Wall’s Ice Cream product for the three magic words ‘suitable for vegetarians’, but there were enough of their products in the freezer I’m talking about (eg, magnum, feast, twister and cornetto) for me to know that their product labelling does not take vegetarians into consideration. So, to all you veggies out there…beware!
After these shocking revelations I am now in the process of writing to both Nestle & Wall’s Ice Cream for further information on their product labelling and online information they provide for vegetarians. Watch this space for updates!