Not suitable for vegetarians: Walkers' new potato crisps range uses real ingredients - including meat

Manufacturer has been quietly remaking its bestselling lines with authentic British ingredients, upsetting some vegetarians

Consumer Affairs Correspondent

In a novel experiment, Walkers is to make crisps using real meat.

For weeks the country’s biggest crisp manufacturer has been quietly remaking its best-selling lines with authentic British ingredients and trialling the packs in shops.

Among the re-made flavours, for instance, is cheese & onion, where cheese powder from Somerset has replaced the artificial flavour enhancer, monosodium glutamate.

The biggest changes, however, involve the two meat lines, smoky bacon and roast chicken, which previously contained no meat.

Walkers is planning to make smoky bacon with extracts of British pork certified ethical by the RSPCA and roast chicken with actual free-range chicken.

The move to home-grown British ingredients – to be promoted by Gary Lineker in a social media campaign next month - has caused some controversy among vegetarians.

Some of them have got a taste for the meat flavours, which were previously given a tick for vegetarianism and labelled “Suitable for vegetarians” and some have urged Walkers to rethink.

The use of a real British ingredient in each of the 10 “home-grown” lines is part of an effort by large food manufacturers to assure customers of the provenance of processed food.

Previously some Walkers crisps were entirely embarrassingly lacking in the headline food blazoned across packs.

Leicester-based Walkers hopes the long-planned switch - which has involved several trips to the countryside to meet small-scale artisanal food producers - will help banish its image as a junk food firm.

During recent days it has been quietly slipping supplies of the new flavours such as salt & vinegar with “with Cheshire salt” and sour cream & chive “with sour cream from Dorset” into shops.

However so far there has been no sign on the shelves of any of the new smoky bacon and roast chicken flavours.

At the beginning of this month, Walkers tipped off the Vegetarian Society that while the flavours had been sage for vegans and vegetarians within weeks “they will now contain extracts of real meat.”

In online forums, some vegetarians protested at the move.

One wrote: “Whether this is simply a publicity stunt planned by their marketing department to cause public outcry, or whether Walkers think this change in ingredients will increase their profits, I will certainly be contacting them to let them know how I feel, and urge you to do the same.”

Another wrote: “The more people that email them, the more likely they will be to reconsider the new ingredients.”

Walkers has sought to calm the row, with its customer services department writing to one complaint: “I am really sorry that you will no longer be able to enjoy Walkers Roast Chicken and Smoky Bacon flavoured crisps. I can understand your concerns over this matter however; we are using only Free Range Chicken and Freedom Food Pork to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.”

In 2007, the US snack food giant Mars was forced to abandon a switch to animal rennet in its Mars Bars after it was bombarded with protests from vegetarians.

Walkers’ PR company, Freud Communications, plans to place the uplifting news of the new recipes to national newspapers in coming weeks.

There will also be a Twitter and Facebook campaign starring the the Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who is half way through a new three-year contract promoting his home-town brand.

He will be pictured touring artisanal producers with his father Barry, who ran a fruit and veg stall in Leicester market for years.

Walkers did not want to comment ahead of the publicity launch.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week