The NOVA Key label on its own doesn't help people with food allergies
so how will I find this information?
What about a Vegan label?
How will the lettering on the NOVA Key make sense in non-English
Relating to the "N" in the NOVA Key: How is it used?
Wont the NOVA Key make shoppers even more paranoid about what
they are eating, wearing or putting on their skin?
How and when will the NOVA Key be put into affect?
Can manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants start using the
NOVA Key now? (And if so, why aren't they?!)
Will Pet Foods display a NOVA Key?
What about medicines?
How will restaurants and takeaways use the NOVA Key? Won't this
label be rather excessive if added to each item on the menu?
What about cosmetics and beauty salons?
How does the NOVA Key affect other labelling schemes?
How will the "A" for Animal testing work? Is their a
back date from which ingredients and products tested on animals
are exempt from a "cross"?
How will the "A" for Rainforest Friendly work? Is their
a back date from which ingredients and products grown or reared
in former rainforest areas are exempt from a "cross"?
Will small supply shops and web stores providing specialist goods
be able to label products themselves with the NOVA Key?
Can use of the NOVA Key be regulated? How will consumers know
if the manufacturers are lying or not about the ingredients in
There's a lot of contention about what constitutes "organic".
What's the content percentage of NOVA Keyed product before it
can be displayed without a cross on the O?
1. The NOVA Key label on its own doesn't help people with food allergies
such as "gluten" "nut" or "wheat"
content, so how will I find this information?
If necessary to the type of product, a separate "Allergy Information"
box attached to the side or below the label will contain this information
(see example below). On beauty products, this will also mean that
ingredients known to cause allergic reactions must be included in
the separate information box.
However, regardless of the NOVA Key, allergy information is usually
made clear by law as part of a product's ingredient listing. This
will be taken into account with whichever country's governments
adopt the complete NOVA Key implimentation.
So not to be confused between ethics and allergies, the NOVA Key
label itself is designed to give the consumer instant viewability
to the most commonly required ethically / environmentally based
information - Allergy information remains a separate but equally
more about other labelling schemes at Q 12)
Information: May contain nuts. Gluten Free. Wheat
Free. Contains E213 (Calcium benzoate) which may cause allergic
Q 2. What
about a Vegan label?
The "V" on the NOVA Key also very clearly shows
when it means "Vegan". If the letter "V" is
underlined in light green, then it is vegan. If there is no green
underline it is only vegetarian. It is that simple!
This useful option will mean that a vegan can easily recognize
the difference between a NOVA Key label that is only suitable
for vegetarians or suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Obviously,
if a product displays the "suitable for vegans" option
then it goes without saying that it will be suitable for vegetarians
See the differences below.
Q 3. How does
the lettering on the NOVA Key make sense in non-English speaking
countries - particularly in places like China where the written
language is entirely different?
Even in China, many domestic items display Roman text (and often
in English) simply because so many products originate from other
countries that have standardized English as a common medium for
labelling household appliances etc. However, the information at
the bottom of each NOVA letter will be in the language of the
country where the product is sold. Therefore, in countries where
the lettering of "N,O,V,A" may not mean anything more
than just shapes to some people, they will soon recognize these
"shapes" as symbols relative to the description written
below them in their own language.
Where products are exported and imported from one country to another,
the NOVA Key information, by law will have to be displayed in
the language of the country in which the product is being sold.
You may notice that many products already show ingredients and
manufacturing details in various languages, so the NOVA Key will
be displayed in the same manner.
Q 4. Relating
to the "N" in the NOVA Key: How is it used?
The "N" shows if a product does or does not contain
genetically modified ingredients or ingredients from cloned animals"
Like this example:
If a product
contains GM ingredients or cloned animal products then it is not
organic either. There is never an occasion where the "N"
in NOVA is crossed but the "O" isn't. There will of
course be times when the N is not crossed but the "O"
Due to the continual rise of GM (genetically modified) contamination
of non GM and organic crops, government legislators are "moving
the goalposts" to compensate for what appears to be ecologically
unavoidable trace GM contamination into non-GM crops. (Which will
increase while GM growing and production spreads). This means
it is always necessary to have a separate "N" and "O"
so that future changes in GM vs Organic thresholds can be reflected
through indications on The NOVA Key. For example, if GM free crops
are legally allowed to be called non-GM even though they are contaminated
with GM traces, then the "N" on The NOVA Key threshold
will be set to reflect these threshold changes over time. In which
case you may one day see a NOVA Key labelled with a clear "N"
but of which the subtext says "This product is 99.9% free
of GM. If it is crossed, it may say "This product contains
approx. 35% GM". As time goes on and the ecological and ethical
problems associated with GM contamination and cloning grows, the
NOVA Key "N" will evolve to reflect these changes with
products the "N" is crossed if it contains animal products
or derivatives from cloned animals or plant materials from GM
On the "O"
for organic, for example, on recyclable or biodegradable printed
paper; the print ink may contain chemicals but the entire product
meets the "above threshold" requirement of 95%, meaning the "O"
can be left uncrossed. In other examples, clothing may be subject
to a cross if it is made mainly of non-organic materials.
Q 5. Since so
many products aren't entirely natural, wont the NOVA Key make shoppers
even more paranoid about what they are eating, wearing or putting
on their skin?
Most people are already aware that many products they buy are
not entirely natural. (Even some foods that claim to be "organic"
are not!) (see
Q 12). The NOVA Key will give consumers an informed
choice, and when the key is commonly in place it will provide
a transparent source of information for both ethical and non-ethical
shoppers. In other words, consumer psychology suggests that for
some people, a labelling system like the NOVA Key may not make
the slightest difference to their buying trends, but to many others,
this clear labelling system will be a very welcome addition to
help them make informed choices. Take cigarettes for example,
in countries where hard-hitting warning labels are legally required
on cigarette packaging, such as "smoking kills" etc.,
this will not stop some people from buying cigarettes if they
so choose. If they want to smoke, they will. If a consumer wants
to eat sweets full of artificial colouring and animal fats they
In fact, with some products, the information that the NOVA Key
provides may even open up more buying options for some consumers.
(For example, how many people realise that some bacon "flavoured"
potato chips are veggie, but many cheese flavoured potato chips
Apart from this, the NOVA Key may encourage manufacturers to take
a closer look at the origins of the ingredients they are putting
into their products. This includes additives or "E Numbers"
which can be derived from either animal or non-animal sources.
The E-Number (or its chemical name) may be called the same thing
on a product's additive list, but how the additive was derived
to begin with is a grey area; it might be from an animal - or
it might not be! A food additive's name alone does not tell you
the origins of its constituent components, which is very irritating
for veg*ns. For example, the food colouring additive E161g also
called Canthaxanthin (Natural Orange Colour Xanthophylls) - is
usually derived from plant material, but it can sometimes be made
from fish and invertebrates with hard shells.
Additives at VeggieGlobal Nutrition)
Q 6. How and
when will the NOVA Key be put into affect?
The NOVA Key is currently a registered and copyrighted concept
- an ethical labelling campaign designed to encourage world governments
to adopt the Key as a legal requirement on all products. It is
already in use by one small business in its BETA form, and more
are expected to follow.
The BETA period
invites manufacturers to apply for a NOVA Key licence through
this campaign (see Q 7 below). This part of the programme will
help support our campaign while giving manufacturers the opportunity
to show that perhaps they do care about the ethical choices of
YOU ... the consumer. When, and if your country's government makes
The NOVA Key a legal requirement, manufacturers will then have
to deal directly with them.
So even though this campaign might be popular with, for example,
both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, who would eventually like
to see this system quickly adopted and made law. At present it
is an option for manufacturers etc, to adopt the NOVA Key, subject
to a licensing arrangement. But with your help, the key could
eventually become a government legistaltion. The more people who
actively vote or better still, also get in touch with government
food departments or trading standards authorities in their own
country telling them about the NOVA Key, this could help the campaign
enormously! After voting
here why not write to your government's food /
trading department and include the web address of this campaign
so they can see for themselves?
We will continue to build support for this campaign and make every
effort to make the NOVA Key a world-wide standard ... so
please vote now. If you would like to inform your
country's government about this campaign then send them either
of the following web address:
Q 7. Can manufacturers,
supermarkets and restaurants start using the NOVA Key now? (And
if so, why aren't they?!)
Q 8. Will Pet
Foods display a NOVA Key?
Pet foods will need to display a NOVA Key just like food products
for humans. Whether
some animals are vegetarian or not, some animal owners like to
have a clearer idea of what kind of ingredients are being put
into their companion animal's dinner.
Q 9.What about
Pharmaceutical manufacturers will also be required to add the
NOVA Key to their products. Many people - vegetarians in particular
- feel uninformed about animal content in medicines and whether
or not they have been tested on animals. Patients should be given
an ethical choice as to what optional medicines can be prescribed
to them, thus avoiding those containing animal products. For example,
many tablets come in capsule form - and the capsule casing itself
can often be made of gelatine. The gelatine capsule has no active
relationship with the medicine inside the capsule. Often, there
is a non-capsule alternative of the medicine and therefore the
patient should be made aware of this. By adding the NOVA Key to
all medication packaging, doctors, pharmacists and patients alike
will be clearly informed of any ethical questions regarding manufacturing
Q 10. How will
restaurants and takeaways use the NOVA Key? Won't the general use
label be rather excessive if added to each item on the menu?
Restaurants will have the option of displaying a menu-friendly
version of the NOVA Key, which blends perfectly with any style
of menu design (see below). Thin, subtle lettering showing the
essential NOVA information. Restaurants can choose black or colour
if the "V" letter doesn't have a green band below it
then the dish is not suitable for vegans ... only vegetarians.
This slim design will also apply to cosmetics and salons as an
examples of the Restaurant NOVA Key in action on the restaurant
unobtrusive slim and stylish design of The NOVA Key would be added
to every item on a restaurant menu including sweet dishes and
even the wines list. (Remember that many sweet and cheese dishes
are often not suitable for veggies). So, the appropriate crosses
on the NOVA Key means no more asking uninformed waiters if the
vegetable curry contains chicken stock, or if the gateau has gelatine
you a clear example - McDonald's French fries contain beef extract.
And independent reports found on the Internet in 2002 suggest
that Pizza Hut's pizza sauce contains cheese made with animal-derived
enzymes. (Looking-Glass campaigns contacted Pizza Hut asking them
to confirm this one way or the other, but they never responded.)
Q 11. What about
cosmetics and beauty salons?
A visit to your hair or beauty salon can also be a moral dilemma
without the NOVA Key. As part of the NOVA Key labelling campaign
proposals, all hair and beauty salons and health retreats etc.,
should display a clearly visible list of products they use, labelled
with the NOVA Key, and "red-crossed" accordingly. If
the A and V is crossed on some products, you will know straight
a way that the product was tested on animals (and automatically
not suitable for veg*ns)
As with foods and clothing, cosmetic companies would be required
to use the NOVA Key on each product.
Cosmetic companies, clothing manufacturers and beauty saloons
will be able to use the same graphics as restaurant menus.
Q. 12 How does
the NOVA Key affect other labelling schemes?
Because the NOVA Key's unique concept serves an extended purpose
for all consumers, any country's own labelling system can still
be used in conjunction with it. For example, in the UK the Vegetarian
Society has their own licensed label which is used by some manufacturers.
Vegetarians feel comfortable having an independent organization
determining veggie suitability by showing a "V" sign.
However it's important to remember that even though items "approved"
by such organizations provides authentication, there are still
thousands of other unlabelled products that may actually be suitable
for veggies, but aren't labelled so, which means you can't tell.
And even more importantly, there are also thousands of products
that may appear to be veggie ... but aren't, and not labelled
to help make this clear. This why there is confusion with random,
"one-sided" partisan labelling, which can unfortunately
cause more confusion than it tries to solve. This confirms why
it's clearly necessary to have a "blanket label" such
as the NOVA Key, which shows, for example, when a product is
or isn't suitable for veggies etc. (see "V" example)
But overall, independent labelling by organizations and the universal
role of the NOVA Key applied on the same packaging can give extra
reassurance and both labels therefore harmonize with each other
If anything, it will be in the interest of other ethical labeling
organizations to work and share their endorsements with the NOVA
Key and visa versa, since the Key will provide the public with
an overall indicator of ethical choice.
The common recycling label and other ethical labels such as "Fair
Trade", "Soil Association" "Leaping Bunny"
type certifications can also work synchronously with The NOVA
(repeated from introduction page):
It's important to remember that the NOVA Key is a unique validation
/ clarification system. By design, it stops confusion and consolidates
a fairer and more transparent relationship between manufacturer
and consumer ... the best possible way for manufacturers to build
trust with you the customer. Use of the NOVA Key means that thousands
more products can potentially become more transparent for the
consumer, whether veggie, organic, natural, animal tested or not.
If and when adopted by your country's government, the NOVA Key
would be a legal requirement on all products. But even before
that, manufactures who aren't afraid to provide an honest description
of their products and therefore gain customer respect, can apply
for a license to use the Key (See
Manufacturers using the NOVA Key aren't judging ethics, they are
simply informing you the customer about the content of their product.
They have no reason to be dishonest. If they do mark their Key
incorrectly, a periodically adjusted trust rating will reflect
this on the online listing of manufacturers using the NOVA Key.So
it's in the interest of the manufacturer to be honest, and that
means customers will feel more trusting of manufacturers that
use the Key ... whatever their ethical choices might be. It's
a win-win situation. Obviously, it will be hoped that manufacturers
will find the ethical guidance of the NOVA Key an inspiration
to fine-tune their products and become more ecologically friendly.
If so, they will be able to remove crosses from their product's
NOVA Key in the future. But the important thing in these initial
stages is that you, the consumer can buy with confidence, whatever
Remember, the crosses applied (or not) on each letter which
spells "NOVA" is the important clarifying aspect of
NOVA's impending success as a universal key.
Q 13. How will
the "A" for Animal testing work? Is their a back date
from which ingredients and products tested on animals are exempt
from a "cross"?
This will aim to be in line with stipulations set out by the Co-op
and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)
in the UK. Products, or product ingredients tested on animals
any later than 1985, or for toiletries and their ingredients tested
on animals later than 1997 will require a red-cross on the NOVA
Key letter "A". Products not tested on animals after
those dates will not need to cross the "A" on their
The "A" for animal testing may need to be crossed on non-food
products if it contains a chemical additive (such as glue) which
has been tested on animals since 1985.
Q 14. How will
the "A" for Rainforest Friendly work? Is their a back date from
which ingredients and products grown or reared in former rainforest
areas are exempt from a "cross"?
The "A" must also be crossed if:
a) A product contains ingredients sourced from plantations created
through the destruction of rainforests or other forms of environmentally
sensitive, natural habitat, whereby its ecology and therefore
resident wildlife has suffered a severe reduction in numbers;
threatening the survival of species. The threshold date for this
condition is any natural forest land such as rainforest, which
has been cleared to plant crops after 31st December 1989.
b) A manufactueres meat based product contains meat from farmland
created through the destruction of rainforests or other forms
of environmentally sensitive, natural habitat, whereby its ecology
and therefore resident wildlife has suffered a severe reduction
in numbers; threatening the survival of species. The threshold
date for this condition is any natural forest land such as rainforest,
which has been cleared to farm livestock after 31st December 1989.
The NOVA Key
has determined 1989 as a suitable cut off a point: A period when
significant changes in global biodiversity began to be recognised,
as a decline of natural world species began to fall more sharply,
and global warming - due to accelerated deforestation and other
damaging exploits of the earth by humans - started to show a more
severe drop in ecological sustainability than in previous years.
Q 15. Will small
supply shops and web stores providing specialist goods be able to
label products themselves with the NOVA Key?
In some circumstances, yes.
For example, a shop or website selling ethical wares and foods
etc. can apply to use The NOVA Key on their website and on individual
products. Due to the risk that they may be penalized if any of
the products they are selling are mis-crossed, they will have
to take extra care that their suppliers provide them with a clear
ingredients listing as a guide to how its NOVA Key should be marked
(initialised). For example, if a web store wants to add a NOVA
Key next to each product description, then it's up to the web
store to mark the NOVA Key correctly, otherwise the entire webstore
will suufer a significant percentage loss on their trust rating.
Q 16. Can use
of the NOVA Key be regulated? How will consumers know if the manufacturers
are lying or not about the ingredients in their products?
If the NOVA Key was legislated in your country then the first
line of defence to any stop misuse of it would be your country's
government government, who would incur penalties to those misusing
the Key by incorrect initialisation of relevant N,O,V,A letters.
in the interim period when manufacturers can apply for a NOVA
Key licence prior to the Key becoming a legal requirement, (see
Q.7) the NOVA Key website runs its own regulating
system whereby NOVA Key licensed manufacturers displaying a NOVA
Key which isn't correctly crossed on relevant N,O,V,A letters
will be reflected by their "Trust Rating"
This is how it currently works:
The NOVA Key site has a user's table which displays the product,
the manufacturer and the correctly initialzed NOVA Key of the
particular product. This table is the all-important measure as
to how the NOVA Key will work for you, the consumer, as well as
keeping manufacturers in check who are using the Key. If you notice
that the NOVA Key initialisation on the table is diferent to that
on the actual product, or that you find an ingredient in the product's
ingredients list which doesn't match the intialization of the
key, then it may be that the manufactuer has miscrossed the product's
NOVA Key. If it transpires that the discrepency is a fault that
could have been avoided, the manufactuers trust rating drops.
This "violation" is more friendly than it sounds, because
it allows manufacturers to rectify their mistakes within a given
period, as follows:
NOVA Key wants to give manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurants
etc., the chance to understand the ethics of correct non-partisan
labelling Ė an education. So each time they make a mistake on
the NOVA Key marking, their trust rating will fall one third for
a three month period, in which time they are given an opportunity
to rectify the mistake. For example, if a tin of peas wasn't showing
a red-crossed "O" on the Key when in fact the peas were
not organically grown, then that product will receive a three
month penalty. Based on the sell by date or batch number etc.,
the product will have a reduced trust rating on the NOVA Key website
table. Manufacturers will have three chances to get their NOVA
Key crossings right on each product. After that, they will be
removed for 3 years before being allowed to reapply that product
onto the NOVA Key system. Itís something like a points / driving
ban on a driverís license. If a restaurant or a deli-style shop
etc. selling home-made produce violates the NOVA Key in any of
their items, the entire establishment's trust rating will be reduced
for three months. This is because these establishments are NOVA
Key "blanket" licensed for all their produce, not individual
to recap. You the consumer can inform the NOVA Key anytime you
suspect that a NOVA Keyed product has been incorrectly marked.
The NOVA Key requires manufacturers to inform its admin of any
changes to ingredients which may alter their products' NOVA Key
initialisation. E.g. if the ingredient listing on a productís
label begins to differ from the ingredients that the manufacturer
or restaurant has submitted to the NOVA Key and displayed on the
website table, this will be the first indication that a manufacturer
isnít adhering to the rules. Remember,
you, the consumer, will be able to inform the NOVA Key administration
if you find any products, restaurants etc., that you believe are
misusing the Key.
manufacturer or establishment is using the NOVA Key who is not
on the website list then they are doing so without licence or
permission. Such misuse will be clearly shown as blacklisted on
the NOVA Key website and action will be taken.
Q 17. There's
a lot of contention about what constitutes "organic". What's the
content percentage of a NOVA Keyed product before it can be displayed
without a cross on the "O"?
95% organic content is required to ensure the "O" of
the NOVA Key is left without a cross. This is in line with various
independent organic labelling organisations.For example if a tin
of vegetable soup is manufactured as being organic, the vegetables
used must meat organic
criteria, This may still mean that some chemical sprays are used,
but the organic percentage is measured as 95% or over.
If the NOVA Key is used on non food products - for example jewellery,
the organic credentials can vary depending on the overall use
of natural materials and any solvents used in jewellery fixing
like glue. In such an example its likely that the jewellery NOVA
Key crossing will have an uncrossed "O" because even
though the glue used may be of chemical origin it is likely to
only add up to under 5% of the overall jewellery piece.
Non food items made from reclaimed materials of unknown conistency
must cross the "O" on the NOVA Key and probably the
"V" as well as it may contain animal derived ingredients.
If anyone thinks that this NOVA Key is too complicated then here's
the address of a web site where one can buy Hats for Dunces: www.hats-for-dunces.com
... or else go stand in the corner and think about it all for a
But joking aside, it's really not complicated, and far easier to
learn than spending hours of your precious time in shops or supermarkets
trying to guess if what you are buying is ethically suitable for
you or your family. Let's face it, the NOVA Key system presents
a really simple, quick identification method, even for the "can't-be-bothereds",
who may be bothered if a familiar, clear labelling key is staring
straight back at them from the product packaging. With very little
effort required from manufacturers and consumers alike, the NOVA
Key clears up any confusion about ingredients and the same time
encourages healthier lifestyle options - while inspiring
explore more environmentally friendly ways to manufacture consumable
items. Either way, the choice is yours - and at least with the NOVA
Key, you will easily be able to identify your preferences - anyway
you like ... all through the simple indication of a cross ...
Until then, "To V or not to V ... that is the confusion!"