laboratory tests of vegan restaurants in la | vegan food and living in Los Angeles
This is via Waxy and is worth a read for the sheer sciense-porn of it all. The bloggers identify in meticulous detail their methodology and reasoning, their protocols, their anti-contamination and testing procedures. It's a fun read.
They test almost all of the vegan restaurants in LA and find 10 that are golden, 7 that are in violation of vegan standards and a handful that were inconclusive or difficult to test.
In the end, they trace the ingredients up the food chain and interview the local supplier:
Posing as owners of a new LA area vegetarian restaurant, we arrived at Bodhi and asked to speak with a customer service manager. We were quickly introduced to a helpful lady who was ready to advise us on what products to buy. She was either the manager or the owner, and most definitely the senior person on-premise at that time.
She showed us to a freezer of “veggie chicken”, and we checked the ingredients on the label (all vegan). We asked her why some products have a better mouth texture than others, even though they have no eggs listed as ingredients, and after a long conversation and questions, she said the following:
“We buy most of this veggie meat from a manufacturer in Taiwan. It’s produced for the Taiwanese and Chinese vegetarian market then re-labeled for export, often to the USA. I do know of times when things have been labelled incorrectly, but I do my best to make sure that what they send me is what they say it is.”
Upon further questioning, she kindly gave us the email address of her contact in Taiwan. She specifically asked that we didn’t mention Bodhi Vegetarian Supply when we contacted them, and so we’re not disclosing the name of the manufacturer here.
And like so many other contamination stories, all the signs point to China. The scientists contacted the manufacturer in Taiwan to get to the bottom of the contamination. Here are there bullet points. If you are someone with lethal allergies, this should concern you.
* In the Taiwanese and Chinese market [where most of these products are made and sold] vegetarian customers are only concerned with meat ingredients and not bothered at all if egg or milk ingredients are included [this is due to religious reasons in many cases, typically to accommodate Buddhists, who are often not vegan]
* Sometimes the ingredient listings are not 100% inclusive of what’s in the product [we asked what things are usually added but not labeled]
* Sometimes eggs, fish flakes and milk might be added but not on the label, and we never include ingredients of all the additives – there would be too many
* The veggie meats are re-labeled for the western market, usually by a non-English speaker who is translating the bulk ingredients list manifest, so there are many occasions where the translations were not correct. Also, the labels are small in size, and rarely have enough room for all ingredients.
* If the ingredients change due to cost or availability the list manifest isn’t always updated, and we only revise our translated labels when we introduce new products
* Most of the time, the “veggie meat” products contain egg albumen because the isolated soy protein base we purchase comes that way from the manufacturer
* There are few labeling regulations in Taiwan and they are rarely, if ever, enforced. We usually list the ingredients we put into food directly, but if if we’re using something from a third party we don’t always list the ingredients in that. It’s just not important in Taiwan.