Verdict: Sour Patch Kids are probably not vegan.
Summary (full details in post):
- I contacted the manufacturer to see if they were vegan, but received no clear answer other than the ingredients are proprietary (i.e. secret).
- Sour Patch Kids contain natural flavors, which may or may not be vegan (only the manufacturer would know).
- They also contain artificial colors, which are controversial among vegans because of animal testing.
Every so often I see a post on social media or forum saying “Sour Patch Kids are vegan!”
Mainly because there are no obvious animal products like gelatin on the ingredients list.
However, because of a comment someone left on this post claiming that there were some ingredients that were effectively hidden from the label.
Table of Contents
Do Sour Patch Kids Have Gelatin?
I both emailed and phoned Mondelez International asking “is there gelatin in Sour Patch Kids?”
Seems like a simple question either way.
The email was completely useless, but the rep on the phone said (I’m paraphrasing a bit):
There may or may not be gelatin in Sour Patch Kids. If there is, it’s considered part of a proprietary formula in this case, so it can’t be confirmed either way.
It was not a very definitive answer. If there is gelatin in them, they’re clearly not vegan.
On top of the gelatin, there are other potential non-vegan ingredients as well. I’ll go over them in case you want to learn what to look for in other similar candy.
There may or may not be gelatin in Sour Patch Kids. The manufacturers won’t say if there’s gelatin in them or not.
Other Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients in Sour Patch Kids
Let’s take a look at the ingredients of Sour Patch Kids:
Sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, tartaric acid, natural and artificial flavors, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1
Those are for the original sour patch kids, but all the other variations (like watermelon soft chews) have similar ingredients (no obvious animal ingredients).
All the main ingredients seem to be plant-based.
I contacted the manufacturers again through their website to clarify if they were, but didn’t get a helpful reply:
Unfortunately, this ingredient information is not currently available.
So while no guarantees, they do appear to be plant-based. Technically natural flavors aren’t always vegan, but in this case I would guess that they are.
That leaves 2 potential issues.
Sugar is Not Always Vegan
First, the “sugar.”
Plain sugar is often refined using charred bones of cattle. Here’s a detailed look at why a lot of sugar in North America is not vegan. Not all vegans care too much about this, but many do.
Only the makers of sour patch kids knows for sure, but I suspect they don’t really care about this issue.
This alone makes me think that Sour Patch Kids are not okay for strict vegans.
Artificial Colors Are Controversial Among Vegans
Now what about those artificial colors (e.g., yellow 5, blue 1)?
- Red 40 comes from petroleum or coal
- Blue 1, and yellow 5 & 6 comes from petroleum
Seems kind of gross, but okay right?
Consider that all of these are extensively tested on animals (mainly mice and rats, but even on dogs).
These animals are fed the dyes too see when health problems occur, and then killed after the testing is done (assuming they survive).
To me, and many other ethical vegans, this makes these artificial colors not vegan, which means Sour Patch Kids are not okay for many vegans. However, other vegans feel like it’s unreasonable to avoid them – you’ll have to decide for yourself.
As a side note, those ingredients are placed under restrictions and bans in certain European and Nordic countries because they’ve been linked to health issues like ADHD and cancer. Just something else you might want to be aware of.
Most strict vegans do not eat artificial colors or sugar that may contain bone char. You’ll have to decide if you’re okay with these controversial ingredients.
Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?
It seems that Sour Patch Kids could be vegan, but are probably not.
There are multiple potential issues:
- They may contain gelatin (that is hidden from the ingredients list and they won’t confirm/deny).
- The sugar may not be vegan
- Many vegans still won’t want anything to do with artificial coloring, which is often tested on animals (just not by the company that makes the candy).
There is a chance that Sour Patch Kids are in fact vegan, but it seems very far from a guarantee. If you’re okay with that, that is your choice.