Stir it into stock or spread it on toast, the sticky black paste made from brewer's yeast is a favourite source of B vitamins, especially B12, for millions of vegetarians. They are therefore up in arms now that Tesco, the world's third biggest retailer, ceased to label its own-brand version of the product as vegetarian.
Throwing oil on the fire, the company's representative Alistair Paton explained that "space constraints" meant there was no longer room on the label for the "V" symbol. He further declared that the retailer was under no obligation to label its products as suitable for vegetarians, and that customers should consider the inclusion of vegetarian labelling on certain items to be no more than a "goodwill gesture".
"To put it bluntly, Tesco are putting two fingers up at millions of vegetarians," says Harry James, director of the lobby group Vegetarian Action. "The label is the same size as it has always been, so of course there is space. And to tell us we should count ourselves lucky that the company deigned to put a 'V' on it in the first place is to add insult to injury. Most of us prefer the own brand versions over Marmite, which is owned by the animal-harming giant Unilever", said Mr James. "But other retailers' versions still carry a vegetarian label, so we are advising all our members to boycott Tesco's until they give us our 'V' back."
We contacted Tesco for further comment but nobody from the company was available for comment.