by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
In September 2011 we received an email from a long-time VRG member asking us to look into two ingredients she believed were mislabeled in skin care products she had seen at a store located close to Philadelphia. She told us that “marine collagen” was listed as an ingredient in products labeled “vegan.”
We contacted the owner of the store She stated that her source of marine collagen is “fish scales” and her source of silk amino acids is “the cocoon woven by the silk worm.”
When asked about the labeling, she said that she wasn’t aware of any discrepancy and rechecked them. She concluded that “vegan” was incorrectly placed on the website ingredient list and would be changed to “vegetarian.”
Collagen in Food Products
When working on this report, The VRG noted other places on the Internet where “marine collagen” is described as derived from fish scales and fish skin. It appears that fish are killed in order to extract the collagen.
However, The VRG noticed that one company uses “marine collagen” that it claims had been sourced from algae. Readers concerned about ingredient sources may wish to conduct a company inquiry before purchasing a product containing marine collagen.
As of this writing, it does not appear that marine collagen is used in any food products sold in The United States. Interested readers may wish to note that in October 2009 Nestlé® Malaysia introduced collagen-containing Nescafé® instant coffee as part of its Body Partner® line. According to cosmeticsdesign-europe.com, Singapore is the only country where this product may be found. The collagen in Nescafé’s® Body Partner® range is thought to enhance a youthful body image. Nestlé® Malaysia has not yet responded to the VRG’s request for more information about the source of its collagen.
Other websites and news sources reported in 2009 that collagen is added to some food products in Japan as a functional food ingredient. It may be added to noodles, jams, soups, burgers, or ice cream as an anti-aging compound. Known as a “beauty ingredient” in Japan, collagen chunks may be added to soups or “hot pots” (i.e., medleys of vegetables and meat or fish). Increasingly popular in Japan are dishes which are naturally rich in collagen such as pig’s feet, shark fin or chicken skin.
The contents of this article, our 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 employees or company statements. Information does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.
For more information on food processing methods and food ingredients and to purchase our Guide to Food Ingredients, please visit our website at http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php
For updates on ingredients and other information of interest to vegetarians and vegans, please subscribe to our free enewsletter at http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/
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