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Mars still kosher

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-05-14

Mars and Snickers

Mars and Snickers

British Jews have been given the green light to continue eating chocolate manufactured by Masterfoods despite the recent announcement that whey containing animal rennet is now being used in products including Mars, Snickers, Milky Way and Bounty.

According to the London Beth Din, the amount of whey is such a minuscule amount that is does not affect the kosher status of the product.

“Since whey derived from animal rennet contains only trace amounts of rennet it is permitted according to halacha,” said a London Beth Din spokesman. “It is no problem to any products currently on the London Beth Din approved list.

According to the spokesman, the Beth Din has issued a statement on its website to alleviate any concern from members of the Jewish community. “We have had a few people calling to find out what has happened,” he added.

Its statement said: "Articles have recently appeared in the national press concerning the use of whey derived from animal rennet in Masterfoods confectionery. We have been aware for many years that whey can be a by product of cheese making and that, even today, animal rennet can be used in cheese manufacture. Since whey derived from this source contains only trace amounts of rennet, it is permitted according to halacha. There is therefore no problem with any of the Masterfoods products that are currently on the London Beth Din approved list."

But the Vegetarian Society has raised its concern that even trace amounts however small affect the ethical issue of the product. “It has been contaqminated. Even by such a small amount, the product has been affected. There are plenty of alternatives Masterfoods could have used. They have yet to give any reason why they have changed the ingredient from vegetarian to non-vegetarian.”

In a statement, Masterfoods corporate affairs manager Paul Goalby said: "Since changing the sourcing of our ingredients, we are no longer able to ensure our chocolate will be animal rennet-free and so we made the principled decision to admit it was not guaranteed to be vegetarian. If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable, but a less strict vegetarian should be fine to enjoy our chocolate."

A spokesperson for the Jewish Vegetarian Society added that its members will be concerned about the use of animal rennet in Masterfoods' products.  "We have many members who are orthodox and they will be outraged about this. They will certainly be looking for alternatives that don't use even a trace amount of animal rennet."