VEGWORLD MAGAZINE: VEGAN CERTIFICATION FOR TRUTH IN LABELING LAWS:
Protecting consumer interest, building consumer confidence, and Earning Consumer Trust Globally
Consumers are becoming more health conscious, compassionate, and environmentally aware. Vegan-focused product sales are increasing at unprecedented rates. Products labeled “vegan” are met with great consumer interest, as consumer demand drives sales across international industry sectors, which in turn drives the need for laws regulating vegan claims to ensure the integrity and credibility of those claims.
BeVeg believes in truth in labeling. Right now, vegan claims without certification are misleading at best and fraudulent at worse. We are here to advocate for truth and transparency in labeling laws.
BeVeg International is an internationally accredited vegan certification firm hoping to be featured on Consumer Reports. The BeVeg trademark is seen as the highest standard for consumer transparency, and is represented in 6 continents on thousands of products. Our founder and CEO has written a white paper on the need for accuracy in vegan labels, titled Vegan Certification for Truth in Labeling Laws: Protecting consumer interest, building consumer confidence, and Earning Consumer Trust Globally. BeVeg would like to submit this position paper (attached) to Consumer Reports.
How important is vegan certification in terms of
Most consumers are ingredient conscious and most shoppers are concerned with truth in labeling. Nobody wants to be lied to. It is critical that vegan
claims are certified so they can be trusted. The consumer is entitled to honest information. No one wants to be misled. All consumers want peace of mind. You do not have to be a vegan to want to buy a vegan product and know with absolute certainty that the claim is truthful. Brands want to build brand trust, and brand trust comes with consumer confidence. This is achieved through vegan certification.
“Consumers want truth in labeling whether they are vegan or not.”
Bottom line, consumers want and are entitled to honest information. Consumers are sick of reading tiny small print ingredients. Educated consumers know ingredients lack transparency. Consumers, educated or not, do not deserve to be misled by unaccountable claims marketing vegan but unwilling to verify vegan because they wish to jump on the plant-based marketing bandwagon to increase sales. Vegan certification is not a high cost in the scheme of things and companies should have no problem going through the process of disclosure and transparency to ensure consumer confidence and brand trustworthiness.
What should consumers know about vegan certified products?
The word “vegan” is not defined in any one governmental jurisdiction in the world, and right now vegan claims lack credibility and accountability without certification.
There have been cases when a brand has claimed their product was vegan but upon inspection, one realizes that the product contains animal sourced ingredients, or was subject to spillover cross-contamination.
What does this mean under the law?
It means that products can legally continue to market themselves as vegan even if their supplier ingredients failed the vegan certification process.
That means vegan claims that are not certified cannot be trusted and can be misleading to the consumer. By way of example, as the law stands, products made of sugar using bone char, or natural coloring using insect juice, can still legally call themselves vegan without legal repercussions.
When a product is vegan certified, however, the consumer has confidence that the product was fully vetted to the highest of industry standards to
ensure vegan verification. This means the manufacturer and the brand owner took the vegan claim as seriously as they would take any other food safety or product safety claim. Consumers should feel at ease knowing the certified vegan product they are considering is vegan as defined by
industry best practices. Consumers are ingredient conscious and health conscious. Access to truth in labeling when it comes to vegan claims should not be a negotiation. When someone buys a certified vegan product they should be absolutely certain that what they’re buying was thoroughly audited, verified, and tested prior to being granted use of the certified vegan trademark. This helps to ensure the final product is free of animal ingredients and was not tested on animals.
The current issue of consumers lacking a tangible, well-defined, uniform, global vegan standard that they can understand and trust is an ever-present
problem. While generally speaking, vegan claims mean something to the effect of: no animal products or by-products, no animal-based additives or processing aids, and no animal testing, the truth is, there remains a lot of undefined gray areas. As a legally binding vegan standard evolves, highly complex legal questions will have to be answered and considered.
In order to successfully implement such a global, omnipresent, vegan standard, however, certain international legalities need to be defined, and redefined, in order to legally keep these vegan definitions and claims honest, relevant, and accountable. The leading vegan standard must not only guide our evolution, but the standard must also evolve as we evolve. The prevailing vegan label shall also be compatible with the competing, varying, and evolving national and international definitions for vegan with the guided mission of defining a singular global vegan standard.
1 The answer to these questions, and how these questions will be handled should be well-defined and accountable. That’s why an accredited vegan standard is key. It ensures checks and balances are put into place according to industry best practices, which helps prevent fraud and raises the standard for consumer transparency. Notably, once the vegan standard is accredited then that standard owner is also audited to ensure certifications are being carried out in accordance with the accredited scheme requirements.
2 In order to define vegan laws and advocate for their protection, we must look to existing legal guidelines as a global framework, which determines where or how vegan fits into the existing modern paradigm of law. At present, current global laws do not require disclosure of or protect vegan claims, and even fail to recognize a vegan interest. For now, that means vegan claims can only be trusted if certified vegan by a known and internationally accredited vegan organization with global trademark protection.
When a product proves its vegan claim to an accredited third-party certification body and discloses the needed information, the consumer can rest assured that industry best practices are met to ensure vegan quality assurance. The consumer can also find peace in knowing the certifying body is also audited by members of the world accreditation forum to ensure accountability to the vegan standard that is used in granting certification to vegan products. This protects the consumer interest.
Visit www.beveg.com for more information.