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Real Response: Vegan ice creams

Complaints from vegan activists about “secret” animal ingredients are becoming a regular part of media diet.

Earlier this year complaints and a news story frightened Z Energy into stopping use of a feather-based pastry conditioner in vegan pies (fair enough), and reviewing its use in meat pies (what?).

This week people promoting their Guide To Vegan website criticised Kapiti ice cream for using gelatin (made from boiled skin, cartilage, and bones) but not placing it on the ingredient list.

We liked part of the response from Fonterra, which owns the brand. A spokesperson described why gelatin was used in the manufacturing to de-cloud fruit juice concentrate, so wasn’t an ingredient.

But they acknowledged it wasn’t “desirable” and so they were “working really hard with our supplier to source an alternative”.

The irony was that the activists were complaining about the failure to mention on packaging that gelatin was used. They told media “We’re not saying, ‘change your recipe for us’, we’re just saying, if it’s in there, we have the right to know…”

So the company committed itself to an action that was not warranted by the tiny scale of the complaint, and was not even requested by the complainants.

We think the company was spooked by the news story. The response was based on the faulty premise that no one should be unhappy with your organisation. It’s a recipe for disaster.

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