Vegan ready meals and restaurants checked by the National Food Chain Safety Office

Vegan ready meals and restaurants checked by the National Food Chain Safety Office

The National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) inspected home-delivered vegan ready meals last year. NÉGYOSZ supports and encourages this type of research and has already started discussions with NÉBIH on cooperation between the two organisations. Details in our article.

At the end of November, news emerged in the press that NÉBIH experts had tested home-delivered vegan ready meals and found animal protein in several of the randomly selected dishes.

In total, 13 ready meals were tested:

  • 5 vegan pizzas,
  • 5 vegan burgers and
  • 3 vegan snickers bars.

After examining the takeaway food and its packaging, 6 catering establishments were also inspected on the spot by Nébih staff. Of these, 4 were prosecuted and one was temporarily suspended at the beginning of the summer, but the problem has since been resolved and the restaurant is now open to the public again.

What irregularities did the Office find?

Despite the fact that consumers expect vegan food to be free of animal ingredients, laboratory tests have revealed the presence of animal protein in several cases. Eight of the catering establishments tested have only vegan dishes on their menus, and five also prepare dishes containing animal ingredients. The presence of animal protein in the dishes tested was verified, with tests showing the presence of milk and/or eggs in seven cases. However, the meat detection test gave reassuring results.

The result does not necessarily mean that the dishes were prepared directly with ingredients of animal origin. They could have been contaminated during storage, preparation, cooking or delivery.

Is it an expectation or a rule that vegan food should not contain any ingredients of animal origin?

This is the basic consumer expectation, but the legislation is not yet aligned with this demand. Legally, there is no clear and binding definition of veganism. However, consumer information should never be misleading and it is clear from current legislation that allergens such as milk and eggs must be disclosed to the consumer, even if they may only be present in trace amounts in the food. This is the only way for consumers to make an informed choice,” said the Nébih.

Popularity test – which is the best vegan food?

Laypeople and experts scored the dishes ordered (vegan pizzas, burgers and snickers bars) to come up with a popularity ranking, which gave the best vegan dish to Sunshine Vegan Restaurant’s vegan charcoal-burning pizza and Eden Vegan’s vegan classic burger, while the best vegan snickers bar in the dessert category was Zabrakadabra Oktogon’s vegan snickers bar.

Vegan protein powder test

In another study, 17 chocolate-flavoured vegan protein powder products were “under the microscope”. These products were found to contain no animal ingredients, but the labelling on the packaging of the products revealed some shortcomings and irregularities (e.g. the list of ingredients did not list allergens in bold letters as required by law). NÉBIH ordered the companies concerned to withdraw the products from the market and recall them from consumers, and also imposed fines.

The position of NÉGYOSZ

Our organisation advocates and supports this type of research and monitoring. As an advocacy organisation for plant-based food producers, we believe it is essential that plant-based and vegan labels are backed by foods that are genuinely free of animal ingredients.

NÉGYOSZ has initiated consultations with the NÉBIH and will make further proposals on the areas of research to be carried out by Hungarian manufacturers, distributors and restaurants to ensure that consumers can enjoy truly pure plant-based products. Our organisation will provide all the help it can to clarify the expectations of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian consumers in the food and catering industry about vegan labelled foods during this decade.

(Source of featured image: Pixabay. Photo for illustration only.)