Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? [Updated]

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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.

Do Sour Patch Kids Have Gelatin In It?

sour patch kids

According to the ingredients label, Sour Patch Kids do not have gelatin. However, some people still claim that there is gelatin in them (hidden behind other ingredients), so I dug deeper.

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.

SUMMARY

There may or may not be gelatin in Sour Patch Kids (probably not). 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).

animal testing

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.

SUMMARY

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 really 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).

Unfortunately, these are common issues many popular candies. For example, Skittles may also not be vegan, and Nerds might be vegan, as they have the same potential problems.

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.

Are Sour Patch Watermelon Kids Vegan?

Sour Patch Watermelon Kids are probably not vegan, just like the original Sour Patch.

In fact, they have almost the same ingredients:

Sugar, Invert Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1

Again, there’s sugar, natural flavors, and artificial colors.

All of these may or may not be vegan. If you’re okay with taking a risk, that’s your personal choice, but strict vegans would avoid them to be safe.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

7 comments

  • I can 100% assure you that sour patch kids are not vegan. I have alpha -gal syndrome which is a allergy to all mammal products including dairy . I have a severe form and will react to even trace amounts . I recently chowed down on a bag of these seemingly harmless treats. I quickly followed it up with benadryl. They . Are. Not . Vegan .

    • I have that same allergy and did not get get any reaction at all? And I ate way more than you did… like, an embarrassing amount over the course of a day. I haven’t actually eaten them again since though because I had eaten so many at that time I got sick of them, but I definitely did not get any allergic reaction.

      Is it possible you ate something else? Should I risk testing it out again?

  • I called the 1-800 number on sweedish fish and sour patch kids. I advised them that we were an analytical laboratory and our staff wanted candies in the lunchroom. I needed to know if there was gelatin or pectin used in the product. I advised that some employees have alergies to pectin and others are vegan. I advised the rep that numerous websites claimed they were vegan and this was odd as their website did not. As well, we haven’t found other products intentionaly omitting their gelling agent and it would misrepresent a product if animal products were used but omitted to appear vegan. We analyze a lot of products so I advised them we would run run tests internally if needed. I asked the rep why they didnt list the gel agent like every other gummy candy. The rep said their candies were not certified vegan and the gelling agent was proprietary.

    I advised that wasn’t good enough and I didnt want to “guinee pig” products on staff. They advised that while it was proprietary they said it included gelatin but couldn’t confirm if it was animal or “fish based”. They advised that vegans should not consume the product. I then asked about pectin allergies and they said we would have no problems there.

    The rep definitely highlighted at the end of the call that vegans should not consume sour patch kids, sweedish fish.

    We were a bit annoyed that this ingedient was omitted yet they allowed 20 top ranking we sites to claim it was vegan when it clearly its not. We dissolved the candies in some solvents including methanol, dichloromethane, ammonia, etc and found nothing proprietary in the gelling agent (gelatin) including the solvent that’s used to disperse the flavor and act as a plasticizer to provide physical characteristics. We broke down the crosslinking and did not see pectin fragments or byproducts so it has no pectin in it. This appears to be a classic gelatin-based candy with likely over 1% gelatin.

  • I’m from the uk and I baught a packet of sour patch kids from my local shop and I read the ingredients and it says it has Gelatine I’m the ingredients but for some reason I decided to google if it was vegan or not, and it is saying of different forums that gelatine isn’t in the ingredients where as on the packet I have it is.

    • From what I’ve gathered, the UK version has gelatine in it (definitely not vegan), but the North American one doesn’t.

      I have heard of some UK stores importing American candy if that’s the only issue you have with it.