by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
A www.vrg.org reader living in Australia wrote us to find out information about the ingredients in the food at Pizza Hut. She inquired at her local restaurant but was told it may take some time to get answers.
The VRG sent an email to Pizza Hut Australia and received a speedy reply from a Pizza Hut food technologist. She told us the following “regarding rennet in the cheeses used at Pizza Hut Australia.”
“…[I]t is important to note that not all of our cheeses are vegetarian.
The mozzarella cheese we use on all our pizzas, (including our standard, 11-inch large pizzas [in the] Legends range), contains non-animal rennet and so is classified as a vegetarian cheese. This includes the mozzarella cheese which we use to stuff the crust of Stuffed Crust Pizzas.
We also have cheddar (or Tasty) cheese available in stores and this is made with animal- derived rennet and so is NOT a vegetarian cheese. On our permanent menu, cheddar is used in Cheese Pizza and also in the whole Mia (9-inch) Pizza range. Cheddar is also used in promotional pizzas or side items from time to time. Examples of promotional products include Big Dippers, Dipsticks, and Cheesy Bites Pizza.
Note that the whole Mia Pizza range (9-inch) contains both mozzarella and cheddar (or Tasty) cheese and because the cheddar cheese contains animal-derived rennet it is not vegetarian.
We also add feta to various pizzas and the feta cheese contains non-animal rennet and so like the mozzarella is vegetarian.
It’s also important to be aware that Pizza Hut does not guarantee that all Veggie Pizzas are “vegetarian” because of the way our pizzas are made. Pizzas are topped from ingredients stored in pots in a refrigerated bench (make-table) using topping cups. Pizza Hut also prepares a large volume of Meat Lovers Pizza on site which include many different types of ham, bacon bits, bacon rashers, meatballs, chorizo sausage and chicken, all of which are meat products and all of which are prepared on the same make table; are cooked on the same pans in the same oven; and are also cut using the same board and knife as the vegetarian pizzas.
So with that in mind, cross contamination of meats with veggies is a definite reality, especially given that the same topping cups are used for both.
We have Veggie Pizzas on our menu and every effort is made to ensure that no meat lands on these (and any other) vegetable-only pizzas, however it cannot be guaranteed. Because of the above, we cannot offer strictly vegetarian items.
Please be advised that Pizza Hut does change product formulations from time to time. [T]herefore, the information above should be checked on a regular basis.”
In a follow-up email, The VRG asked if the “non-animal rennet” used by Pizza Hut Australia was genetically modified Chymax™. (This form of rennet is replicated today in microorganisms although originally it was derived from genetic material extracted long ago from a young ruminant’s (i.e., calf’s or kid’s) stomach.)
In response, we were told that “[o]ur suppliers specify either “animal derived” or “non-animal derived” rennet in our cheeses. I do not have access to further details about the precise rennet used in their manufacture process.”
Readers may like to compare the information presented here from Pizza Hut Australia with that collected in June 2010 from Pizza Hut USA:
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The contents of this website and our other publications, including The Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.