Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? (Hint: Not For All Vegans)

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sour patch kids

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.

But to me, they’re wrong. Kind of…

Just because there’s no gelatin in a gummy candy, doesn’t mean it’s vegan.

I think there are a few things you need to be aware of before you choose whether or not to eat them.

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 through their website to clarify if they were (particularly the natural flavors), 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.

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 thing that sour patch kids are not okay for vegans.

And 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.

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.

Are Sour Patch Kids “Technically” Vegan?

After a lot of thought and reading, we can’t know for sure if sour patch kids are vegan or not, even though they don’t contain any animal products directly.

The sugar may have been processed using bone char, which is the main issue.

Personally, I think the artifical colors are on the grey side, but “technically” vegan. While animal testing often surrounds artificial coloring, it’s not required for those ingredients. So, it’s different from cosmetics, where let’s say a makeup manufacturer may test on animals.

Additionally, it’s not like the makers of sour patch kids are the ones doing the animal testing. It’s mainly food scientists trying to figure out just how safe these ingredients are. They’re pretty distinct.

In conclusion: It seems that sour patch kids could be vegan, but it’s not safe to assume so.

Even if the sugar ends up being vegan, many vegans will still want to pass on them because they don’t want anything to do with artificial coloring, which is often tested on animals (just not by the company that makes the candy).

You’ll have to make your own call here. While I personally wouldn’t eat them, I also wouldn’t have any reaction to another vegan eating them if they were comfortable with it.

It’s a bit of a grey area, and sour patch kids are still way better than other candy with gelatin and other animal products in them.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

1 comment

  • 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 .