Definitions of vegetarian and vegan (South Africa)

"strict vegetarian diet" means a diet which excludes all ingredients and additives derived from animal origin and the expression "vegan diet" has the same meaning; "vegetarian" means a diet which – (i) consists of ingredients of multi-cellular plant, fungal, algal and bacterial origin; (ii) may include honey, dairy foods produced without any slaughter by-products, and/or unfertilised eggs obtained from live animals; and (iii) excludes all animal flesh and products obtained from the slaughter of an animal, such as gelatine, animal fats, caviar and roe; (1) Claims that a foodstuff is suitable for vegetarians shall specify the category of vegetarian by adding one or a combination of the following prefixes to the word "vegetarian": (a) "Lacto (milk)" - means milk and milk products are included but products in which animal rennet is used during preparation are excluded. (b) "Ovo (egg)" - means unfertilised eggs (preferably free-range) and egg products are included. (c) "Honey" -means honey is included. (d) "Strict vegetariam[sic]” "or "vegan" means ingredients of multicellular plant, fungal, algal and bacterial origin are included but all ingredients and additives derived from animal origin are excluded. (2) When a foodstuff is manufactured for the "strict vegetarian" or "vegan" market and a claim in respect of "strict vegetarian" or "vegan" is made on the label and it is not possible to conclude from the name of the ingredient or ad-ditive that they are derived from non-vegetarian origin, any additive or ingredient derived from non-vegetarian origin which is added to the foodstuff shall be declared as "non-vegetarian origin" or in words that specify the source in pa-renthesis after the name of the additive or ingredient.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.

Janusz F. Luterek

South Africa