Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? (Here’s Why They’re Not)

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? (Here’s Why They’re Not)

Sour Patch Kids are extremely popular candies, and this can be easily verified by the number of vegans asking if they’re vegan, and according to Google Trends.

Unlike what can be found in candies of the same kind, Sour Patch Kids do not seem to contain gelatin, which is typically what gives these types of candies away. Additionally, you can’t spot any other obvious animal derivatives on the ingredients list.

By looking at the label, and seeing the lack of obvious animal ingredients, It’s easy to immediately jump to the conclusion that Sour Patch Kids are vegan.

However, also based on its ingredients, I can spot certain ingredients that may give rise to a controversial dispute, namely sugar, artificial flavors, as well as added colors.

Sour Patch Kids: Ingredients

Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, tartaric acid, natural and artificial flavorsyellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1

Sour Patch Kids have multiple ingredients, including plant-based ingredients like sugar that produced taste and man-made ingredients that confer the gummies with their texture, shape, and multiple colors.

What some people may not be aware of (namely, brand-new vegans), is that while a label may appear to be vegan-friendly, there are certain ingredients that are controversial.

Looking at this product’s label, I can detect the following controversial ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial flavors

Oftentimes these ingredients may be associated with animal cruelty, even though they’re essentially plant-based.

Why The Sugar In Sour Patch Kids May Not Be Vegan

Sugar generally comes from two sources: sugarcane or sugarbeets, which are both used in similar amounts in the United States.

While also similar in taste and texture, their refining process is very different.

Beet sugar is extracted using a diffuser and mixed with additives to crystallize, and cane sugar is processed, filtered, and bleached with bone char — a non-vegan property.  

What Is Bone Char?

By PETA’s definition, bone char is made from the bone of cattle from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then sell them to sugar suppliers in the United States.

Also known as natural carbon, bone char is used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing agent, which is why it provides sugar with its pristine, white color.

Is Sour Patch Kids’ Sugar Vegan?

Companies like Oreo use both forms of sugar (beet and cane sugar) because they rely on different suppliers, which also makes it very difficult to trace the sugar back to its source.

That said, Mondelez International, the multinational company that owns Oreos and also Sour Patch Kids, has confirmed the use of bone char by their suppliers.

For that reason, we can’t consider Sugar Patch Kids to be vegan.

Other Controversial Ingredients In Sour Patch Kids

Besides sugar, there are other ingredients that spark up a lot of debate in the vegan community, and they should be definitely taken into consideration by anyone wanting to lead a vegan diet.

Artificial Flavors & Colors

Despite being separately mentioned on labels, there’s a likelihood that both artificial flavors and artificial colors may not be vegan for the same reason.

Red 40 can be derived from petroleum or coal, and Blue 1, yellow 5 & 6 are derived from petroleum. Not the most enjoyable discovery, but those are considered vegan sources.

The problem arises when you find out that artificial ingredients, in general, are extensively tested on animals (mainly mice, rats, and occasionally dogs).

Dyes, in particular, are fed to these animals to monitor the emergence of potential health issues, which may occur from time to time in the form of tumors. Even if they do not die from the actual side effects of the dyes, they’re killed when the testing is done.

While I’m not sure whether or not tests on artificial flavors are conducted on a frequent basis, I’ve learned that artificial colors are periodically tested due to potential health risks.

These tests conducted in 2017 and 2018 are available online.

Most vegans might not mind and I’m sure that many people who claim to be vegan or vegetarian have consumed products with artificial flavors or colors, including myself. However, if you are a more strict individual, it’s understandable that you may avoid these ingredients at all times.

For anyone who wishes to know more about the harm done to these animals in labs, here is a video that illustrates their experience:

Even if you decide NOT to avoid some of these ingredients that are tested on mice, there’s no denying that someone with a stricter stance has valid reasons to avoid said ingredients.

Vegan Alternatives To Sour Patch Kids

While I’m able to find some alternatives that don’t contain animal-based ingredients, it’s nigh impossible to find alternatives that lack the aforementioned “questionable” ingredients.

However, I was able to find out were products that clearly point out on their labels that they’re vegan-friendly, and that is why I’ve mentioned them below:

While these may not taste the same, or provide you with the same tasteful experience as the Sour Patch Kids, they’re still very much worth trying out!

Verdict: Sour Patch Kids Are Not Vegan

As we’ve just found out in this semi-long blog post, Sour Patch Kids cannot be considered vegan because the sugar in the product (at least, part of it) has been filtered using a non-vegan decolorizing agent called bone char.

Additionally, we can also conclude that some of the controversial ingredients such as artificial flavors and artificial flavors are byproducts of rigorous testing trials conducted on animal species like mice, rats, and in the least of cases, dogs.

More importantly, artificial colors (namely, the color Red #40) are periodically tested to ensure that no potential health issues may come into fruition, as you can verify from the links to studies I’ve shared in the topic’s respective section.

That being said, it’s also true that these ingredients (especially sugar) are very difficult to avoid, since they’re in almost every sweet-tasting product. As such, I wouldn’t pass judgement on someone that decided to each such products, because I understand it might be difficult to sometimes find worthy alternatives.

For those that have more strict “vegan” principles, I’ve shared some alternatives I found on Amazon US, which are quite similar to Sour Patch Kids.

Last but not least, if you feel like there is some erroneous information on this blog post, or that you’d like me to add further information to this blog post, please do share. My goal is to provide as much information as possible, and do so in a precise way.

Thank you for reading and I hope this has been helpful.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three 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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