Reno, Nev. (Sept. 2, 3017) — Hindus are seeking an apology from Paul Polman, CEO of the Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company Unilever for non-disclosure of beef in some of its products and an immediate recall of all such food items.
In a statement from Nevada on Sunday, Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said it is shocking for Hindus to learn that some of the Unilever food products, which they had been eating for years, might contain beef while beef was not explicitly mentioned under the ingredients listed on the boxes or packaging.
An email response to Zed from Unilever Corporate Consumer Services on Saturday stated that “Gelatin is made from animal protein. It is used in some of our products to provide a lower fat, lower calorie product with a pleasing texture and consistency. The protein of animal origin is processed according to high standards of purity. It is so highly refined, that it is no longer considered a meat product by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). We cannot guarantee if the gelatin is derived from beef or pork.”
Consumption of beef is highly conflicting to Hindu beliefs, Zed said. Cow, the seat of many deities, is sacred and has long been venerated in Hinduism, he said.
“It was a very serious issue for the devotees and would severely hurt their feelings when they would come to know that they were unknowingly eating beef-laced popular food products,” Zed said. “What happened to the Unilever claim—“We’ve developed a clear and global approach to nutrition labelling, to help people make healthy food choices?”
It is hard to comprehend why Unilever did not mention the possibility of animal proteins under the ingredients on the packaging when gelatin was included with the product inside, he said. Now is the time for Unilever to admit the error of not being transparent enough to mention in clear and simple terms what was is included with its food products in a way that an ordinary consumer could be aware and make an appropriate choice, he said. In the future, Unilever should explicitly list beef in the ingredients on packaging when beef is or is possibly present in the product, he said.
Unilever includes 400 brands such as Knorr, Hellmann’s, Magnum, Blue Band, Becel/Flora, Best Foods and others. One Unilever brand carries the same name as Hindu deity “Rama,” a product line of margarine, cheese spreads, cooking fats, cream alternatives and more.
Unilever has reportedly been in business since the 1880s. Co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London, the company claims to serve 2.5 billion people on any given day. Seven out of every 10 households around the world contain at least one Unilever product, the company claims. Unilever’s United States company is headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. The Hindustan Unilever Limited is based in Mumbai, India.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, with approximately 1.1 billion adherents, Zed said. There are about 3 million Hindus in the U.S., he said.