In a short period of time three major brands in the food industry, Lidl, Felix and Max, have been convicted of misleading marketing by the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (“RO”). In all three cases the companies had promoted different food as “vegetarian”, although there had been animal additives and / or flavourings in the food.
In the decisions the RO argued that if a food package is labelled with “vegetable”, “vegetarian” or the like, it would normally be regarded as misleading if an ingredient, like additives and flavourings of animal origin, is included in the food.
However, in some cases it might be considered acceptable to use the concept “vegetarian” even though the food contains such additives or flavourings. An example could be when a pizza with cheese is designated as vegetarian, as it is customary in Sweden that vegetarian pizzas are sold with cheese included.
In other cases, when milk or eggs entering the food which is otherwise free of animal ingredients the RO suggested that concepts like “lacto-vegetarian” or “ovovegetarian” should be used, instead of the “vegetarian”.
(Links to the decisions in Swedish: http://www.reklamombudsmannen.org/uttalande/lidl-vegoratter, http://www.reklamombudsmannen.org/uttalande/felix-veggie, and http://www.reklamombudsmannen.org/uttalande/max-vegetarisk-restaurang.)