Hindus are urging India Government and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to mandate food manufacturers to mention the source of gelatin, if used in the product, on its “Ingredients” label.
When the source of gelatin is not listed and if it is beef, it is a serious non-disclosure affecting the Hindu devotees and would severely hurt their feelings when they would come to know that they were inadvertently consuming beef-laced popular food products, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed stresses.
Consumption of beef was highly conflicting to Hindu beliefs. Cow, the seat of many deities, was sacred and had long been venerated in Hinduism; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.
“…there is no requirement to declare the source of gelatin on the product label under our regulations”, P. Karthikeyan, FSSAI Assistant Director, wrote responding to an email query from Rajan Zed.
It would be shocking for the Hindu community to learn that some of the popular food products, which they might had been unknowingly eating for years, might contain beef as part of the gelatin while beef was not explicitly mentioned under the ingredients listed on the boxes/packages to caution them, Zed indicated.
Rajan Zed further said that it was hard to comprehend that why corporations, both domestic and international, many times were not transparent enough to mention beef explicitly under the ingredients on the box/package when, being constituent of gelatin, it was part of the product inside, so that an ordinary consumer could make right and appropriate choices.
Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company Unilever, which “has been in business since the 1880s” and which claims to have “developed a clear and global approach to nutrition labeling”, in a response to Zed, noted: Gelatin “is used in some of our products to provide a lower fat, lower calorie product with a pleasing texture and consistency…We cannot guarantee if the gelatin is derived from beef or pork”.
Many products of Wrigley, said to be the largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum in the world, contain gelatin that is sourced from beef. Gelatin derived from beef is found in the many products of multinational Kellogg’s, which claims to be “world’s leading cereal company”.
Gelatin/gelatine is procured from various animal body parts and is usually used as a gelling agent in food. It can be from cows, pigs, fish, chicken, etc.; but there are animal-free and plant-based alternatives to gelatin like seaweed extracts. Gelatin is an ingredient in some cereals, ice creams, candies, yogurts, desserts, marshmallows, aspic, trifles, dips, fruit snacks, sour cream, margarine, frosting, confections, gums, Chinese soup dumplings, puddings, nondairy creamers, cakes, cream cheese, lozenges, etc. It is also used for clarification of vinegar, juices and wine.
FSSAI, headquartered in New Delhi, “has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption”. Ashish Bahuguna and Pawan Kumar Agarwal are Chairperson and CEO respectively of FSSAI, whose tagline is “Inspiring Trust, Assuring Safe & Nutritious Food”.