NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 20, 2001: A large number of food items passed off as vegetarian actually contain some non-vegetarian ingredients. Some manufacturers add crushed deer antlers to chyawanprash, an ayurvedic medicine. Animal-based enzymes are used for baking biscuits and some beer and whisky makers also use animal-derivatives to “ripen” their products. The vitamin A and D normally added to vegetable oil is often of animal origin. Even items like soaps, shampoos and toothpaste may contain ingredients that are of animal origin. Until a few months ago, India’s Union health ministry seemed concerned that consumers had the right to know if a product is of non-animal origin. Now it is being accused of “withdrawing notification of Law under pressure of vested commercial interests.” The accusation comes from VOICE (Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education), in the wake of the ministry’s decision to withdraw a notification which would have made it mandatory for manufacturers to indicate, through a stipulated symbol and color code, the fact that the product has non-vegetarian substances.