Are Dots Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Looking to get some Dots but don’t know if they’re vegan?

Fortunately, Dots do not contain any animal ingredients, so they’re technically vegan. However, some vegans might disagree because Dots contain ingredients such as refined sugar, artificial colors, as well as natural & artificial flavors which raise some questions. 

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Dots.

What Are Dots?

Dots are a brand of gum drops sold by Tootsie Roll Industries, the same company behind Tootsie Rolls, Andes Mints, Blow Pops, and many others. 

dots

The current flavors for the Original Dots include cherry, lemon, lime, orange, and strawberry.

Other varieties such as the Sour Dots also have a similar assortment of flavors, including orange, lemon, grape, cherry, and green apple, however, they’re made with citric acid. 

There is also the Tropical Dots, which have a different assortment of flavors with unique names, including Island Nectar, Wild Mango, Grapefruit Cooler, Carambola Melon, and Paradise Punch. 

These are the most prominent varieties of Dots, but there are also others such as the Yogurt Dots, as well as the Crows which are considered to be part of the Dots family despite having a distinct name.

Ingredients In Original Dots

The Original Dots contain the following ingredients:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Malic Acid
  • Natural And Artificial Flavors
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Artificial Colors (Including Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1).

As you can see, the Dots do not contain any gelatin, which is usually the only problematic ingredient in candies of this kind because it’s essentially what makes them non-vegan. 

Alternatively, the Dots contain modified food starch, which allows the candy to gain and maintain shape, which is typically the role gelatin plays in such products. 

So, technically, the Dots are suitable for vegans, except for those who avoid ingredients such as refined sugar, artificial colors, as well as added flavors. 

Sugar

Sugar generally comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.

They’re both similar in taste and texture, but their processes differ. Beet sugar is extracted using a diffuser and mixed with non-animal additives to crystallize, so it’s vegan 

Cane sugar, on the other hand, is made by crushing sugarcane stalks to separate the pulp from the juice and then filtering the juice with bone char – which is an animal derivative. 

What is Bone Char, Exactly?

Bone char is made from the bones of cattle.

According to PETA, the bones typically come from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan, which are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil that re-sell them to companies in the US. 

Bone char is used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which is what gives refined sugar its white, pristine color. Bone char is also added to other types of sugar, including brown sugar. 

For this reason, the more conservative vegan might avoid products that contain refined sugar, especially if they know a company actively sources from suppliers that rely on bone char. 

With that being said, let me point out that companies are increasingly resorting to cruelty-free options such as ion-exchange resins and activated charcoal, as they help achieve the same result. 

Artificial Colors

Artificial colors are known for being tested on animals and therefore are not cruelty-free.

Needless to say, this is quite a controversial topic because, on one side of the aisle, you’ll find people arguing that animal testing is a necessary evil to protect us from potential diseases. 

While on the other end, people are arguing that it’s no longer necessary because it’s a cruel practice, and with the technology we have, using animals for testing is no longer acceptable. 

The video below expands on that issue, but to give you a short answer— while animal testing might be current practice, it won’t be for much longer due to technological innovation.

Artificial colors are periodically tested, which means they’re tested on animals regularly, as you can see in these papers from 2017 and 2018.

Therefore, if you’re vegan and want to avoid artificial colors, the best way to do that is by not consuming products with artificial colors, even though it’s difficult at times. 

Natural & Artificial Flavors

The issue with natural and artificial flavors is akin to artificial colors— with the exception that some natural flavors can derive from animal sources. 

The Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavors as substances extracted, distilled, or similarly derived from plant or animal matter, either as is or after it has been roasted, heated, or fermented, and whose function is for flavor, not nutrition.

Given that the flavors (for each Dots) are fruit-based, there’s no reason to believe they would use animal sources to replicate such flavors. 

However, for some of the artificial flavors, there may be a possibility for animal testing, which could make them not suitable for vegans. 

Ingredients In Sour Dots

The ingredients within Sour Dots are the following:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Citric Acid
  • Palm Oil
  • Malic Acid
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Artificial Colors (FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1).

There’s not much of a difference between the Sour Dots and the Original Dots, except for one ingredient— palm oil, which is also quite controversial in the vegan community.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is controversial for a different reason, albeit still related to animal cruelty.

While palm oil is a plant-based ingredient, there’s a problem with how it’s farmed. Unfortunately, due to high demand, there’s an immense amount of deforestation that occurs from creating palm oil plantations. 

palm oil deforestation
Palm oil deforestation

Deforestation is synonymous with shrinking biodiversity— it leads to the eradication of species living in those environments because they’re often unable to survive outside their own. 

A study by Cell.com, states that between 1999 and 2015, palm oil production has led to the demise of 100,000 orangutans.

For this reason, some vegans choose to avoid palm oil because of its detrimental effects.

Ingredients In Tropical Dots

The ingredients used to make Tropical Dots are:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Malic Acid
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Artificial Colors (Including Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1).

In other words, they’re not different from the previous Dots varieties, so while they’re technically suitable for vegans, they still contain ingredients that make us raise our eyebrows. 

Are Dots Gluten-Free? 

Yes, all Dots varieties are gluten-free, so you should be able to consume them as someone that might have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance. This is also the case for Crows, a product that belongs to the Dots family. 

Summary

Technically, Dots are suitable for vegans as they do not contain flagrant animal ingredients.

A lot of times, products that look like Dots contain ingredients such as gelatin, shellac, or dairy, but this is not the case here. 

However, they do contain controversial ingredients such as refined sugar, artificial colors/flavors, and palm oil, which some vegans avoid for legitimate reasons. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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