Mars UK has reversed its decision to use animal extract in the production of a range of confectionery products after a flood of complaints from campaigners.

The company, formerly known as Masterfoods, performed the U-turn amid anger from vegetarians that rennet, an animal enzyme, was to be used in products including Mars, Snickers and Maltesers.

Mars UK said last week it would change the source of whey used in its chocolate products in the UK from a vegetarian-friendly variety to rennet. The company received over 6,000 complaints on the issue, while some 40 MPs had also signed a petition against the move.

Fiona Dawson, managing director of the Mars snackfood business in the UK, said yesterday (20 May): “It became very clear, very quickly that we had made a mistake, for which I am sorry. There are three million vegetarians in the UK and not only did we disappoint them but we upset lots of other consumers.”

Dawson added: “We have listened to their views and have decided to reverse our decision. All those people who have enjoyed our products in the past will soon be able to enjoy them once again.”

Mars UK said it would change its recipes immediately to get back to using the vegetarian-friendly whey.