Find answers to some of the questions you might be wondering about V-Label.
What benefits does the V-Label offer over other veggie labels?
Many companies and producers use their own veggie labels for their products. When creating these labels, however, they define their own criteria for vegan and vegetarian products, which results in inconsistencies with other companies and producers. A lack of background knowledge among companies regarding the various ingredients and important production criteria can lead to incorrect labelling. These self-made labels are not subject to checks by independent bodies, which means that incorrect labelling can sometimes go unnoticed by consumers. Consumers are increasingly calling for transparency so that they can identify vegan and vegetarian products quickly and with confidence.
Currently, only the V-Label can offer this clarity thanks to standardised criteria in the labelling of vegan and vegetarian products. The V-Label means that companies can outsource responsibility for the quality assurance inspections of their vegan and vegetarian products.
Also, the V-Label is Europe’s only independent label in the “vegan” and “vegetarian” categories.
Why is it not enough simply to read the list of ingredients?
Simply reading the list of ingredients provides little assurance as to whether or not a product is vegetarian or vegan. Some ingredients are specified as E numbers that are unfamiliar to many consumers, while others are not listed at all because they do not need to be declared. Also, it is not always clear whether certain ingredients are of plant or animal origin – for example, it is not generally customary for production additives, many of which are of animal origin, to be included in the list of ingredients. Recipe changes can mean that a beloved vegan or vegetarian product suddenly contains animal products without consumers even noticing. Not only are products that are licensed with the V-Label inspected for their composition, but each individual production step involved in the development of a product is also scrutinised. The V-Label is therefore a quick and reliable indicator that saves consumers the bother of perusing the list of ingredients.
By what criteria are products carrying the V-Label marked as vegan or vegetarian?
The definition of the terms “vegan” and “vegetarian”, which the V-Label uses as a basis, complies with the recommended definition specified during the 12th Minister for Consumer Protection Conference held on 22 April 2016.
Food and other products that do not contain animals or parts of animals are considered vegetarian. This takes into account all production and processing steps. Food and other products created with the help of living animals and animal-derived products are considered vegetarian.
Food and other products that do not contain animals or parts of animals are considered vegan. To be vegan, food and other products must not be derived from animals. This takes into account all production and processing steps excluding animal use during cultivation or harvesting.
Additional criteria of the V-Label
The V-Label is never licensed in the following cases:
- Products declared as containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
- Products containing eggs from caged hens (including from enriched cage systems and small-group rearing)
The V-Label does not exclude products whose packaging contains animal-derived products. However, companies are encouraged to voluntarily avoid using packaging containing animal-derived products.
Fertilisation and cultivation
The process of V-Label licensing for products and ingredients covers the period from harvesting. The fertilisers used on the soil in which the raw materials for “V”-labelled products are grown does not constitute a relevant criterion. However, raw materials grown from vegan, organic agriculture should be preferred, and companies are encouraged to voluntarily avoid using fertilisers containing animal-derived substances.
Trace ingredients and contaminants
Companies decide on a voluntary basis whether or not to indicate on the packaging the presence of trace contamination with allergens or animal products that might potentially occur in the production process. By indicating the potential presence of trace ingredients, companies safeguard themselves against any legal consequences in the event that customers experience allergic reactions. Just because this information is provided, however, does not necessarily mean that the end product actually contains animal products; the information merely warns consumers about the possibility of minimal contamination arising in the production process.
Products carrying this information meet the criteria of the V-Label provided that no animal ingredients are deliberately added at any point during production. The production process must be designed to exclude any possibility of contamination with animal ingredients. According to the criteria of the V-Label, total contamination with all verifiable animal ingredients in the end product must not exceed 0.1% (1 g/kg). Other rules based on a “technically feasible detection limit” may apply for certain product groups.
The V-Label is never licensed for the following products or products containing any of the following ingredients:
- Slaughter products
- Fats from fish, fish parts or other marine animals
- Flavourings of animal origin (with the exception of milk-based flavourings)
- Eggs other than poultry eggs (e.g. caviare)
- Milk products in which animal rennet is used
- Royal jelly
- Colourings made from animal-based ingredients (e.g. cochineal)
- Sugars processed with animal bone char
- Animal-based carrier substances or additives
- Clarification with animal-based substances (e.g. gelatine, isinglass)
The V-Label in the “vegan” category is licensed only for products that are additionally free from animal products such as:
- Milk products
- Animal wax
- Colourings made from animal products
- Animal-based carrier substances or additives
- Clarification with animal-based substances (e.g. egg white)
On what basis are food and other products classified as “vegan” or “vegetarian”?
Companies who want to license products to carry the V-Label are required to declare to the licenser the full composition of these products and all additives used during processing. On the basis of this self-declaration and following an inspection by the V-Label team, food and other products can then be classified as “vegan” or “vegetarian.”
What steps are taken to ensure that companies fulfil the requirements of the V-Label?
The V-Label team reserves the right to implement quality assurance measures aimed at safeguarding the credibility of and benefits promised by the V-Label.
Any recipe changes or changes to the processes involved in producing food and other products carrying the V-Label must be reported immediately and without prompting to the V-Label team members responsible for quality management. Once the company has declared the relevant changes, a new inspection is conducted.
Are there times when it does not make sense for a product to carry the V-Label?
It does not make sense for all foods to carry the V-Label: Mono-products such as teas, spices and mineral water and raw foods such as unprocessed vegetables are always plant-based and do not need to be specially labelled as such. While there is nothing wrong in principle with advertising a product by stating what is obviously true, it is not considered advisable.
What costs can companies expect to pay when licensing their products with the V-Label?
The use of the V-Label is subject to an annual licensing fee and a one-off inspection fee.
How long can it take for companies to be issued with a license?
The licensing process involves five steps. Once a company has submitted an initial request, an offer is made on the basis of the company data submitted. Once the offer has been confirmed by the company, a licensing contract is concluded. After this, the licenser checks all the product details. Following a thorough check, and if the licenser is satisfied with the outcome, the V-Label license is issued. Finally, the product packaging layout is checked and approved for use. In a standard licensing process, it can take between 2 and 8 weeks until a company finally receives the go-ahead to use the V-Label.
What is the nature of the contract for the companies?
Period of validity
The contractual relationship generally lasts one year. If sales fluctuate by more than 10% up or down, the annual licensing fee is adjusted accordingly. The start of the contract is specified in the contract. A later date can be specified to take account of, for example, future product launches. The contract is extended automatically if it is not terminated in writing three months prior to expiry.
Once the licensing process is complete, a license certificate is issued for the product in the relevant category.