DALLAS -- Pizza Hut is standing firm that its Veggie Lover's pizza does not use beef products, despite a lawyer's claim that its cheese is made from a beef enzyme.
The Dallas-based company is facing a class-action suit filed on April 1 by Seattle lawyer Harish Bahrti. The lawyer claims Pizza Hut has marketed the pizza deceptively and caused harm to unwitting vegetarian and Hindu consumers.
Bharti recently won a $10 million settlement against McDonald's after it admitted using beef flavoring in its french fries.
As reported in The Courier-Journal, Pizza Hut said in a prepared statement that its cheese is made with a 'vegetable/microbial based' enzyme, not calf rennet, which is made from the lining of calves' stomachs.
In cheese making, enzymes coagulate milk and assist the separation of whey and curd.
Additionally, Pizza Hut stated that it does not market the Veggie Lover's pizza as vegetarian.
According to the Food Lover's Companion, a food-term dictionary authored by Sharon Tyler-Herbst, a vegetarian is a person "who eschews the consumption of meat or other animal foods." Tyler-Herbst also defines "vegans" as "purists of the vegetarian world and who ... refuse to eat all animal-derivative foods including butter, cheese eggs and milk."
Citing its 1996 Webster's Dictionary, Websters.com defines vegetarian as "one who holds that vegetables and fruits are the only proper food for man. Strict vegetarians eat no meat, eggs, or milk."
Clair Hicks, professor of food science at the University of Kentucky, told the C-J that "well above 90 percent of all the cheese manufactured in the United States is from (microbial) chymosine. You would have to look pretty hard for one made from a calf's stomach. It's just too expensive."