Masterfoods, the UK unit of Mars, has defended its decision to use ingredients derived from animal products in the production of various products, including Mars Bar and Maltesers chocolates.

“From May 1, we have changed the source of the whey which is used in our chocolate confectionery and ice-cream products to include some animal-sourced whey. We are making this change to ensure the quality and availability of the supply of whey in the future,” a spokesperson for the company told just-food today (14 May).

The company has come under fire from vegetarian groups, such as the Vegetarian Society, over the weekend.

“For some incomprehensible reason they are using animal products when all these items have previously been produced using vegetarian alternatives. There are about 3m vegetarians in the UK which is a significant part of the UK market. It is very disappointing that Masterfoods products are no longer vegetarian friendly. We hope the company will reconsider this move,” a spokesman for the Vegetarian Society told The Guardian newspaper.  

However, Masterfoods responded that the list of altered ingredients is only likely to effect the strictest of vegetarians.

“The whey we will be using is the same kind of whey which is used in the majority of cheese, which many vegetarians are happy to eat. Therefore all those vegetarians who are content to eat all varieties of cheese can continue to enjoy our products,” the spokesperson said.