HomelabelsISO 23622: 2021, labeling criteria for Veg, vegetarian and vegan foods

ISO 23622: 2021, labeling criteria for Veg, vegetarian and vegan foods

The 10.3.21 ISO (International Organization for Standardization) presented a new standard on food labeling criteria Vegetarian, vegetarians and vegans, ISO 23662: 2021. Composition and process requirements, labeling and permitted information.

A step forward compared to the starvation of the European Commission which - having received a mandate to clarify the concepts of 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' food in the reg. 1169/11 - has not yet done so (1,2).

The ISO standard is consistent with the guidelines previously prepared by the Food Standard Agency (UK, 2006) and from European Vegetarian Union, (3) but vegan associations protest.

The100% vegetable'is not enough to guarantee ethics, therefore the values ​​and requirements of organic certification are reaffirmed.

'V' like Vegetarian, the first petition in Brussels

The petition the European Commission proposed by the German citizen Simon Schmid requested the application of the 'V' logo on the labels of foods suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. In order to favor consumers' choices without forcing them to consult lists of ingredients in some cases omissive, in this respect, due to gaps in EU rules (eg. gelatin, mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, food additives and rennet of unknown origin, rennet in cheeses rarely vegetarians).

The Commission European Commission, however, objected to the superfluity of the forecast requested, as:

- food business operators are always and in any case responsible for the truthfulness and non-misleading information offered to consumers,

- the authorities in charge of official controls, in the individual Member States, must ensure compliance with the aforementioned rules and respect the provisions of article 36, paragraph 2, of EU Reg. 1169/11. (4)

Food labeling Vegetarian, second attempt in Brussels

The European Citizens' Initiative 'Food labeling for vegetarians / vegans', registered by the Commission on 12.11.18, in turn proposed to add a graphic symbol to distinguish non-vegetarian, vegetarian and vegan foods at a glance. However, the initiative has not reached the minimum required threshold, one million signatures in at least 7 countries, to obtain consideration in Brussels. (5)

Nutritional security of food Vegetarian on the other hand, it has not received any attention from the community concerned. The writer (Dongo) had at the time suggested adding on the food labeling front Vegetarian, vegetarians and vegans, processed - increasingly popular, as seen - the essential data to understand the role of one of their portions in the diet (eg source of protein, source of fiber). (6)

ISO 23662: 2021, objectives and scope

ISO 23662: 2021 is the new international reference standard for labeling Vegetarian. On an optional basis, it is applicable to foods and food ingredients presented as compatible with dietary choices:

- ovo-lacto-vegetarian

- ovo-vegetarian

- lacto-vegetarian

- vegan. (7)

Objective of the standard is to guarantee the fairness of commercial exchanges and consumer information. Food safety requirements (established instead in ISO 22000 / 2018), the characteristics of the packaging materials, the animal welfare and other socio-economic considerations (e.g. fair trade, religious precepts). (8)

Protests by vegan associations

Vegan World Alliance had already sharply criticized the work of the TC34 Technical Commission, in ISO, accusing it of astroturfing. In other words, having orchestrated a deceptive public relations campaign through the contributions of external parties and to the detriment of consumers (9,10).

protests have also been raised by Vegan Society, VeganOK, AssoVegan (Italy), Vegan France Interpro and SAFE (Safe Food Advocacy Europe), due to lack of consideration of animal rights with respect to experimentation and exploitation in agricultural work, destination of genetic material for GMO practices, production of the packaging food and obtaining by-products. (11)

From 'Vegan' to '100% vegetable'. Better yet, organic

Comments unheard of the vegan associative system show the evolution of this concept into a broader paradigm that considers ethical aspects other than the composition of foods with only vegetable ingredients. Vegan OK, for example, excludes the certification of products with palm oil as a primary cause of land robbery, deforestation and genocide of orangutans, exploitation of minors.

'100% vegetable' therefore the correct wording appears to express the concept of 'plant based food'which does not include further guarantees of socio-environmental sustainability of the supply chain. Keeping in mind that this term, like those 'vegetarian' or 'vegan', does not exclude the use of GMO ingredients and microorganisms, nor the use of agrotoxicants in agriculture. System certification biological it is indeed the only real guarantee of all-round sustainability, presided over by mandatory European standards and enhanced official controls.

Dario Dongo and Andrea Adelmo Della Penna

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Vegetarian and vegan. GIFT (Great Italian FoodTrade). 22.8.17/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/vegetariano-e-vegano

(2) Dario Dongo. Vegetarian and vegan, another bluff from Brussels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 7.11.17/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/vegetariano-e-vegano-un-altro-bluff-da-bruxelles

(3) Dario Dongo. Is cheese vegetarian? Nì. Here's how to recognize it from the label. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). two. https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/il-formaggio-è-vegetariano-nì-ecco-come-riconoscerlo-dall-etichetta

(4) European Parliament. Petition n. 0473/2017, presented by Simon Schmid, a German citizen, on the labeling of vegetarian and vegan food. Committee on Petitions, 20.12.17, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/PETI-CM-615547_IT.pdf?redirect

(5) European Commission, decision (EU) 2018/1701 on the proposed citizens' initiative entitled 'Mandatory food labeling as non-vegetarian / vegetarian / vegan'. Updates on https://europa.eu/citizens-initiative/initiatives/details/2018/000007_en

(6) Dario Dongo. Vegetarian and Vegan, identity and guarantees. A proposal. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade) 18.6.17, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/vegetariano-e-vegano-identità-e-garanzie-una-proposta

(7) International Organization for Standardization (2021) ISO 23662: 2021. Definitions and technical criteria for foods and food ingredients suitable for vegetarians or vegans and for labeling and claims - Abstract. https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:23662:ed-1:v1:en

(8) ISO News. Vegetarian product labeling. 10.3.21, https://www.iso.org/news/ref2634.html (accessed on 12.3.21)

(9) Vegan World Alliance complains that the participants in the drafting of ISO 23662 would have 'conflicts of interest' with the food industries, ignoring how the participation of supply chain representatives is consolidated and essential, in TC 34 as in other ISO technical committees, precisely to ensure technical convergence on technical standards

(10) Vegan World Alliance rejects ISO-23662. 7.6.20, https://www.veganworldalliance.org/news/article/2020/06/07/vwa-iso-23662-rejection.html (accessed on 12.3.21)

(11) Vegan Society. Joint letter International Standard ISO-DIS 23662. 24.11.20, https://www.vegansociety.com/sites/default/files/Joint%20letter%20International%20Standard%20ISO-DIS%2023662.pdf (accessed on 12.3.21)

Andrea Adelmo Della Penna

Graduated in Food Technologies and Biotechnologies, qualified food technologist, he follows the research and development area. With particular regard to European research projects (in Horizon 2020, PRIMA) where the FARE division of WIISE Srl, a benefit company, participates.

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