Hindus are urging Government of Iceland and Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) to mandate food manufacturers to mention the source of gelatin, if used in the product, on its “Ingredients” label.
When the source of gelatin is not listed and if it is beef, it is a serious non-disclosure affecting the Hindu devotees and would severely hurt their feelings when they would come to know that they were inadvertently consuming beef-laced popular food products, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed stresses.
Consumption of beef was highly conflicting to Hindu beliefs. Cow, the seat of many deities, was sacred and had long been venerated in Hinduism; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.
According to Katrín Guðjónsdóttir, Senior Officer at MAST: “There are no spesific regulations on source of gelatin – they do not have to be declared on the label.”
It would be shocking for the Icelandic Hindu community to learn that some of the popular food products, which they might had been unknowingly eating for years, might contain beef as part of the gelatin while beef was not explicitly mentioned under the ingredients listed on the boxes/packages to caution them, Rajan Zed indicated.
Zed further said that it was hard to comprehend that why companies, both Icelandic and international, many times were not transparent enough to mention beef explicitly under the ingredients on the box/package when, being constituent of gelatin, it was part of the product inside; so that an ordinary consumer could make right and appropriate choices.
Rajan Zed urged Iceland President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and MAST Director General Jon Gislason to seriously and urgently look into this issue affecting Icelandic-Hindus.
Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company Unilever, which “has been in business since the 1880s” and which claims to have “developed a clear and global approach to nutrition labeling”, in a response to Zed, noted: Gelatin “is used in some of our products to provide a lower fat, lower calorie product with a pleasing texture and consistency…We cannot guarantee if the gelatin is derived from beef or pork”.
Many products of Wrigley, said to be the largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum in the world, contain gelatin that is sourced from beef. Gelatin derived from beef is found in the many products of multinational Kellogg’s, which claims to be “world’s leading cereal company”.
Gelatin/gelatine is procured from various animal body parts and is usually used as a gelling agent in food. It can be from cows, pigs, fish, chicken, etc.; but there are animal-free and plant-based alternatives to gelatin like seaweed extracts. Gelatin is an ingredient in some cereals, ice creams, candies, yogurts, desserts, marshmallows, aspic, trifles, dips, fruit snacks, sour cream, margarine, frosting, confections, gums, Chinese soup dumplings, puddings, nondairy creamers, cakes, cream cheese, lozenges, etc. It is also used for clarification of vinegar, juices and wine.
MAST, headquartered in Selfoss, is an inspection and administrative body and the Competent Authority in Iceland in the field of food safety, which seeks to “promote food safety and consumer awareness”.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.