The majority of vegan manufacturers share production facilities and equipment with nonvegan producers. That's because it's typically too costly to purchase equipment dedicated solely to vegan products. This is especially true for smaller concerns and start-up companies that produce items for a limited niche market. In addition, many manufacturers of vegan products also have nonvegan product lines, and they cannot afford to have separate facilities for each of them.
The labels on these products that indicate traces of various foods are crucial and life-saving for people who are highly allergic to them. Even though equipment is thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between runs of various products, trace residues of these foods can remain behind or can linger in the air and resettle. For children and adults with severe, anaphylactic food allergies, eating, touching, and sometimes even breathing in these particles can be toxic.
Trace elements in foods does not render them nonvegan as long as there are no animal-based ingredients in the product recipe. It is the same general concept as eating vegan food off a plate that previously was used to serve meat but was cleaned in a dishwasher. Although there may be a very small number of vegans who would take exception to this, most vegans realize that veganism isn’t about attaining “purity,” but rather it is about living humanely in the real world. Accepting the limitations of manufacturing while supporting vegan companies, and appreciating that honesty in product labeling can help to save lives, are positive steps that allow us to have a broader range of options in prepared foods. Therefore, unless you have an allergy to one of these trace items, enjoy these products with a grateful spirit and a clear conscience.
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