Inno Veggie – investigated by the FEHD as a health risk

We have tried numerous times going back to July 2015 to have Inno Veggie take seriously the health risk their laziness presents. With further indication they were not exercising the required rigour, the FEHD were notified. This is the story.

Inno Veggie were covered on this website as the first ever ‘winner’ of the Worst Restaurant of the Month. 3 issues were raised with them. As per a follow up article published about them there was one such issue still outstanding. That issue was their inaccurate ingredient labeling on their menu. Specifically the menu was misleading customers to inaccurately believe certain dishes are free from egg and / or milk. Such mislabeling is bad news for anyone on any kind of diet seeking to avoid those products. That could range from people suffering from allergy or intolerance to those foods to people such as vegans.

A follow up impromptu visit was made by us to Inno Veggie around two to three months ago. There was a Filipina staff member kind enough to introduce me to the head chef. This was a Chinese gentleman who also went by the English name of Anthony. The conversation with Anthony seemed to be very constructive at the time. Anthony was kind enough to walk through the menu with me with Anthony answering questions about egg or milk in certain ingredients / dishes. Anthony explained for example about various mock meats being egg free and made with things such as mushroom. The menu had also been updated with small egg or milk icons sellotaped beside dishes that had previously been indicated as being either egg or milk free. It was explained by Anthony this icon sellotaping was an interim measure with newly printed menus expected in around a week.

So after the new menus were supposed to be operational, Inno Veggie were visited again. No sign of the new menus. This loop was repeated a second time. Still no new menu. This loop was repeated a third time. Still no menu. However at this point there was a new insert in the existing menu. In the insert was a cheese dish without the milk icon beside it. We asked if this was vegan or lacto (i.e. dairy) cheese. Sure enough it was lacto. Groan. Back to square one again.

Cheese pic

(If you’re on a dairy free diet, lacto cheese is bad news for you. Try vegan cheese instead)

One way around this for Inno Veggie of course is to become another of the restaurants in HK that rejects the likes of dairy products and instead uses non animal derived alternatives (there’s plenty such HK restaurants as per this list). However that doesn’t seem to be Inno Veggie’s preferred choice and that’s up to them. At 17 months they’ve had more than long enough to instead start to take ingredient labeling thoroughly and rigorously. It was after this that on 20 November 2016 a complaint was sent to the HK Food and Environmental Hygiene Department re Inno Veggie’s dish mislabeling. To give the FEHD some credit they seem to have taken at least some action and quite speedily as well. This is their reply today:-

staff of our Department inspected the food premises and the menu under complaint was not seen on spot.  Health advice about proper labelling of food menu was given to person in charge of the restaurant on spot.”

They’ve been sent this reply in looking for further clarification:-

“Can I ask please does this mean that all of the cheese dishes on the menu were correctly marked with the icon Inno Veggie use on their menu to indicate contains milk?”

As we repeatedly state; being thorough matters in any business. If they cut corners in one area then what else do they cut corners with?

Our thanks go to the FEHD for their involvement in this so far. Ingredient mislabeling is a serious issue to many people for different reasons.

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