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Ground Feathers in a Vegan Pie?! How to Avoid Non-Vegan Ingredients in Food
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Ground Feathers in a Vegan Pie?! How to Avoid Non-Vegan Ingredients in Food

You know how frustrating this scenario can be: you choose a product at the grocery store that you can’t wait to enjoy at home, but then notice a non-vegan ingredient that sort of sneaked into it. It’s disheartening. But what's even worse is when you don’t know you've just eaten an animal-derived ingredient. This recently happened with a pie sold by Z Energy fuel distributors in New Zealand. The service stations released a vegan pie to the public that sounds delicious: it’s a Mexican pie with ingredients such as sweetcorn, tomato and onion in its filling, but there’s something non-vegan and quite disturbing lurking inside it. The pie contains what is known as E920. This is basically poultry feathers that have been ground up.

  • We Didn't Know...

Z Energy owned up to this non-vegan ingredient on social media. They left a comment on their Facebook page that after checking with their pie makers, they found that E920 was chemically derived from poultry feathers. However, they stated this mistake has been remedied by the bakers so that future pies will not contain any trace of this ingredient, which is great of them to take a stand like this. The sad thing is that the pie, which won a customer competition and was created by Gemma McLeod, was selling by the thousands at Z petrol stations during its first five days. How must vegans who ate them feel! It's disturbing to think that they have unknowingly consumed an animal-derived product.  

  • Don't Ignore the 'E' Additives

This story of E920 makes one wonder what other animal-derived ingredients can be on ingredients lists.  Here are some common ones:

  • E120: carmine. This is colour derived from cochineal beetles. 
  • E322: lecithin. It should be from soy but sometimes gets taken from chicken eggs. 
  • E904: shellac. This is derived from lice. 
  • E1105: lysozym. This is taken from chicken eggs. 


Check out this comprehensive list of additives containing animal sources. You might not always be in control of ready-made foods, but you can still always do your research by contacting companies to be sure of what you're consuming. When shopping, make sure you scrutinize ingredients lists so you uncover those codes. 

*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons CC by 2.0 by Korona Lacasse

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