Please Mars, just tell me!

“You can’t eat them.”

“What?”

“You can’t eat them.”

“Why the fuck not, they’re only M&M’s.”

“They’re not suitable for vegetarians.”

“Oh yeah, peanut M&M’s, chocolate, peanuts, horse lips, says it right there on the ingredients list.”

The conversation didn’t quite go like that but as it turns out peanut M&M’s aren’t suitable for vegetarians, possibly to do with animal rennet used in the production of the whey…

So I thought, what else can’t I eat, sometimes it’s confusing and annoying having to read through all of the ingredients and make a choice. What if there’s nothing obvious in the ingredients that would point to it not being suitable for vegetarians? So I’ve found myself more and more just avoiding anything that doesn’t say it’s suitable.

I had a look on the Mars Nutrition website, it helpfully lists nutritional information and the ingredients of products, but nothing about suitability for vegetarians.

Contact Us“, yes please! So I did.

Hi, do you have an up to date list of your confectionery products that are NOT suitable for vegetarians?

It would be very helpful if you also labelled your products that weren’t suitable for vegetarians.

Cheers

Rich

A week or so went by and then today I got a reply from the very helpful Paula Ricketts who works on the Consumer Care Team at Mars…

Dear Richard

Thank you for contacting us about a list of products that are not suitable for vegetarians.

Unfortunately, we’re not currently able to confirm the suitability of individual products or provide you with a list.

Once again, thank you for contacting Mars.

Yours sincerely

Paula Ricketts
Consumer Care Team
0845 045 0042

So, I’m sat open mouthed, do they not know, is it a closely guarded secret? Tap, tap, tap I composed my reply…

Thank you Paula, for your in depth and expedient reply.

I am however a little confused with your reply, do you not know which products are suitable for vegetarians or do you just not want to tell me?

I look forward to your reply!

Kind regards,
Rich

So, only time will tell if Mars will admit to not knowing, not wanting to tell me or just not being bothered!

Incidentally, Cadbury have a very helpful website which lists everything you need to know about their products, if they’re vegetarian, vegan, kosher, etc. Have a look!

http://nutrition.cadbury.co.uk

UPDATE – 2/11/11

I got another reply from Mars…

At Mars, we’re always trying to provide our consumers with the biggest choice possible of chocolate products. We’re making great progress in making sure our products are suitable for vegetarians where possible.

Unfortunately, we’re not currently able to confirm the suitability of individual products or provide you with a list, but most of products are suitable and have ‘Suitable for vegetarians’ on the back of the pack. This labelling ensures that these products are in line with the FSA’s guidance on vegetarian labelling.

As always, our advice would be to make sure you check the packaging so you can guarantee the suitability for your diet. If the product does NOT say ‘Suitable for vegetarians’, we would suggest that you avoid it.

I can only guess that sometimes they have to make changes to the way they manufacture their products. Sometimes they can do it without using ingredients dirrived from animals, sometimes they can’t and they have to change the label based on this.

It’s a shame that the FSA doesn’t issue very useful guidelines on this, wouldn’t it be easier for everything to just state the suitability either way instead of the consumer having to guess or go without because there just isn’t a simple label. I noticed that on the label for some Divine chocolate I was looking at it didn’t say it was suitable for vegeterians but later when I checked on their website it said it was, but they missed the sale.

3 Replies to “Please Mars, just tell me!”

  1. Mars is so frustrating…
    But thank you Rich, this post was very informative and helpful to me 🙂
    (And that was said with no hint of sarcasm or irony whatsoever hehe)

  2. Well Mars clearly knows their products and cares about the vegetarian community. Not too impressive (of them). I contacted Unilever without needing the back and fourth emails:

    Pro- they immediately sent me a list of their vegetarian and non vegetarian products

    Con- all Cornetto and nearly all Magnum icecreams showed up under ‘non’

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