Welch’s is an American company owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association, a co-op of grape owners since 1956. Welch’s is known for several products like grape juices, jams, and jellies, but what we’re covering in this particular post are the equally popular fruit snacks.
The fruit snacks are made with real fruit and are available in multiple varieties. They also offer you a range of packaging options to better fit your needs, namely bags or boxes of different sizes.
However, the question you’re waiting to be answered is — are Welch’s Fruit Snacks vegan?
Unfortunately, they’re not vegan. On top of containing a few “questionable” ingredients like natural flavors, artificial flavors, added colors, and refined sugar, which makes it difficult to confirm the vegan status of a number of products — Welch’s Fruit Snacks also contain gelatin, which is derived from collagen taken from animal body parts.
Below, we’ll get into the details of why you shouldn’t eat Welch’s Fruit Snacks if you’re vegan, and we’ll also give you some vegan alternatives to help you cope with this disappointing information.
Welch’s Fruit Snacks: Ingredients
Initially, I was positive that Welch’s Fruit Snacks were vegan, because being made from fruit, why would they not be? Well, if you look at the ingredients on their website, you’ll be disappointed.
Plus, I didn’t just look at Welch’s Original Fruit Snacks, I also looked through different variations, including the ones with reduced sugar, to see if there was one that didn’t contain gelatin.
Unfortunately, they all have an identical ingredients list:
- Fruit puree (grape, peach, orange, strawberry, and raspberry)
- Corn syrup
- Modified corn starch
- Concord grape juice from concentrate
- Citric acid
- Lactic acid
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- Alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E)
- Vitamin A palmitate
- Sodium citrate
- Coconut oil
- Carnauba wax
- Annatto (color), turmeric (color), red 40, and blue 1.
In any variation, you’ll find these five ingredients: gelatin, natural and artificial flavors, artificial colors, and refined sugar.
What is gelatin?
Put simply, gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling the tendons, skin, ligaments and/or bones of cows and pigs. Gelatin has different uses in the food industry. It can be used as a gelling agent, stabilizer, thickener or texturizer. You can find it across different products including jellies, cream cheese, and margarine, or even dumplings.
In addition, it also has its use in industries such as the pharmaceutical or supplements industry, where the vitamin capsules revolving the ailment are made from gelatin.
If you wish to know in further detail how gelatin is made, feel free to watch the video below:
Difference between natural and artificial flavors
There is a slight difference between natural and artificial flavors. Natural flavors can be derived from animal or plant sources, and artificial flavors are 100% man-made.
Both may or not be vegan depending on your point of view.
The reason most stringent vegans avoid natural flavors is because they can be either plant or animal-based, not to mention the fact some companies may hide animal ingredients (i.e: honey or castoreum) under the “natural flavors” guise.
That said, these companies are not required to reveal that information unless we’re speaking of major allergens like milk or nuts. Nevertheless, in some cases, it’s obvious that the word “natural flavors” is referring to ingredients extracted from plant-based sources, which is what most likely happens with fruit-flavored beverages.
With Welch’s Fruit Snacks, we’re not entirely sure because they’re using gelatin.
While artificial flavors are man-made, which immediately deems them vegan-friendly according to most people. People sometimes ignore the fact that these ingredients require the approval of the FDA before they can be safely included in products for the public’s consumption.
Obtaining approval means conducting tests to ensure these artificial substances don’t cause serious health problems (at least in the short-medium term). Instead of conducting the tests on humans, animals are usually the subject of choice, particularly mice.
Therefore, because there is a connection between anything artificial and animal cruelty, vegans that have stricter views or principles avoid artificial ingredients.
Artificial colors and animal testing
The same can be said for artificial colors.
However, there is a caveat. When it comes to artificial flavors, I don’t have any research or data suggesting that artificial flavors are periodically tested on animals. This means that artificial flavors may be a one & done deal. (Don’t quote me on that)
Because this is an ongoing practice, stricter vegans also avoid artificial colors.
Why is sugar questionable?
The reason sugar is questionable is simple, but it all boils down to the refining process practiced by each sugar company or supplier.
Typically, sugar comes from two sources: sugarcanes and beets.
Because beets do not require as much refinement, they’re filtered through a diffuser and mixed with a few vegan-friendly additives. However, cane sugar has more impurities and it requires a more thorough refinement, which means bone char is sometimes used.
What is bone char?
Bone char, also known as natural carbon, is a decolorizing and deashing agent used by sugar industries to give sugar its white, immaculate color. It’s also capable of removing inorganic impurities like sulfates, as well as ions of magnesium and calcium.
Bone char is obtained by carbonizing the bones of cattle, which results in a black powder that is quite similar to charcoal.
Keep in mind that not all companies use bone char!
Because there are modern alternatives like activated carbon and ion-exchange resins, you also have companies that don’t use bone char in the United States.
However, this information is not disclosed on product labels, so it’s difficult to know if bone char was used to create an XYZ product or not. In light of that, if you’re heavily against the use of bone char, you can always ask the company via phone or email.
Are There Vegan Alternatives to Welch’s Fruit Snacks?
If you’re searching for vegan fruit snacks, Welch’s Fruit Snacks is not the right option.
As a result, I’ve compiled a list of fruit snacks advertised as vegan-friendly:
Keep in mind that some of these products contain a number of the few “questionable” ingredients we have covered in this blog post.
Summary: Welch’s Fruit Snacks Are Not Vegan
Welch’s Fruit Snacks contain gelatin, a protein obtained from animals such as pigs and cows.
In addition, it also has questionable ingredients that may or may not be vegan.
However, keep in mind that you can easily find vegan-friendly alternatives that don’t contain gelatin, some of which we’ve mentioned in this blog post.
I hope this blog post has helped. Thank you for reading.