The Vegetarian Society has named Bassett’s Jelly Babies, made by UK confectionery giant Cadbury, as the winner of its “Imperfect World Award”, for items that are made using animal products despite the availability of a vegetarian alternative.

The society said the purpose of the award is to let manufacturers know that there are products out there that vegetarians want to buy – but won’t – because they are made using animal products; for examples, isinglass or gelatine in the production process of certain beers and wines, cochineal used to colour sweets, gelatine to set desserts, animal rennet in cheese and whey.

The award has had a certain amount of success. Two years ago, snack giant Walkers, which won the award for its cheese and onion flavour crisps, reformulated the crisps within months, removing the animal rennet to make them suitable for vegetarians. However, last year’s winner Nestlé still produces its Smarties confectionery product using E120 – cochineal from crushed beetles.

This year, one of the three shortlisted products, Holland & Barrett’s own brand Flaxseed Oil (Linseed oil) capsules, was reformulated even before the award ceremony had taken place, and the capsules are now available without gelatine.

Bassett’s Jelly Babies, however, still contain gelatine, a slaughterhouse by-product. Cadbury’s Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts, which also contain gelatine, were among the nominees last year.

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“Choosing a winner for this ‘award’ is bound to be a close call, but we went for Bassett’s Jelly Babies in the end as it seems so unfair that children, particularly vegetarian children, may be scoffing these sweets without being aware that they are, in fact, eating something that comes from the slaughterhouse,” said Tina Fox, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society.

At its annual award ceremony, the Vegetarian Society also announced the winners of various vegetarian food categories. Quorn Mince won best meat or fish substitute, while New Covent Garden Food Co won best range for vegetarian soup.