Nothing Satisfies Like Baby Cow Tummies

According to the BBC, the Masterfoods company, maker of the Snickers, Milky Way, Mars, and Twix candy bars, among others, has begun using rennet in their milk chocolate products. For those who don't know, rennet is an enzyme found in the mucus of mammal stomachs. It allows mammals to digest milk. One upshot of rennet is that, if you extract it from a mammal's stomach and add it to milk, it'll cause the milk to curdle. Rennet is a fairly common element in the cheese-making process, and is more generally used to create whey, which you often find in snack foods.

The trouble is the part where it comes from mammal stomachs. Whey-making rennet comes from cow tummies. Baby cow tummies. The operation to extract the rennet from the cow tummy does not leave the cow in any sort of shape to continue with the whole living thing. This makes rennet, and products that contain it, not generally suitable for vegetarians. You can curdle milk using non-animal rennet, but it's somewhat more expensive. I don't think it's too much more expensive, given the reasonable availability of non-rennet cheeses and whey products, but I am not an expert.

So: Now a wide variety of Masterfoods candy products are no longer suitable for vegetarians. This is annoying.

What irks me most about the article is the part where the Masterfoods spokesman defends the switch to animal rennet as a "principled decision." I would be interested to hear exactly which principle it was that motivated Masterfoods to turn products that did not require the killing of animals into products that did require it. While "wishing to maximize our profit margins," is, technically, a principle, to use it as Masterfoods does here does violence to what is commonly understood by the term "principled decision." If a company is going to make a decision based on hard fiscal calculations, I would rather they just come out and say it. "We conducted a study and determined that the cost savings from switching to animal rennet outweigh the expected loss in sales of candy bars to vegetarians, so we decided to make the switch," at least has the virtue of being forthright. Instead, they went with, "after many nights spent tossing and turning, we have finally slain our demons and stand before you now to say 'For too long our candy bars have contained a repugnant lack of baby cow tummies! This must not be!'"

Having now voiced my opposition to this move, I must now confront the fact that annoyed bleatings on the internet are the only way I can punish the company. Since I'm a vegan, the "milk" part of their milk chocolate products has kept me away from them already. I can't spend any less than I'm already not spending on their products. I could write an angry letter, though:

"Dear Sirs,

I find your decision to include animal rennet in your products morally repugnant. I already found your decision to include milk in your products morally repugnant, but this is altogether moreso. I will continue to not buy your products just as though you had not made this decision, but now my non-purchases shall be conducted with greater gusto, perhaps accompanied by a sad shaking of the head and a clucking of the tongue.

Yours sincerely,
Z. Alexander Slorpe, Esquire."

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on May 18, 2007 11:10 PM.

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