Are Fruit Roll Ups Vegan?


Are Fruit Roll Ups Vegan?

Fruit Roll-Ups is a popular brand of fruit candy that’s been around since the early 1980s. They’ve since come out with numerous variations of the original plain sheets like punch out shapes and even temporary tattoos for tongues.1

Anyway, because the candy has been around for so long, a lot of vegans grew up on the snack and want to know if they can continue to after switching to the new way of eating.

Is it vegan? Yes, Fruit Roll-Ups are considered vegan by most standards. They come in several flavors, and most are more or less some combination of corn syrup, sugar, fruit concentrate, oils, vegetable gums, colors, emulsifiers, vitamin C, and emulsifiers. All of which are generally considered vegan.

What we’ll do here is go over the various reasons Fruit Roll-Ups are considered vegan by most standards, listing any ingredients that especially prudent vegans may want to avoid.

Why Fruit Roll-Ups Are Considered Vegan

Fruit Roll-Ups Don’t Contain Gelatin or Egg Whites

Fruit candies are usually hard or chewy, and the latter can be a red flag because animal products are often used to achieve the desired chewy texture—namely, gelatin, though egg albumen is also used.2,3

I’ve scanned numerous labels, and neither ingredient is to be found. Instead, the candy makes use of several vegetable microbe-derived gums.

For example, the berry/strawberry flavor contains:4

  • Sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Corn Syrup
  • Pear Puree Concentrate
  • Palm Oil
  • Carrageenan
  • Citric Acid
  • Monoglycerides
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Acetylated Monoglycerides
  • Malic Acid
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Potassium Citrate
  • Natural Flavor
  • Red 40

Wikipedia refers to the snack as a pectin-based fruit-flavored candy.5

If you run across pectin, it’s fine. It’s simply a polysaccharide (a fancy word for a complex carb) that exists within and between the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.6

But, most I’ve come across contain other plant-based substances (usually carrageenan and locust bean gums).

Vegetable gums like carrageenan and locust bean gums are always plant-derived and thus vegan.7

Xanthan gum is microbe-derived. While the story is a bit more complicated for this additive, it is still largely considered vegan.

It’s produced via fermentation with a bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris. The cultures are fed sugars, like sucrose and glucose, but some strains can be cultivated on lactose (the simple sugar in milk).8,9

The ingredient has also known to be processed using egg whites.

However, the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) considers it to be a safe ingredient for vegans.10

Fruit Roll-Ups Use Vegan-Friendly Food Colorants

Artificial food coloring agents are those that aren’t found in nature or derived from a natural source.11

This is important because the only non-vegan food dye is among the “natural” dyes because it is found in nature: beetles. Yes, we’re talking about Red 4 aka carmine, the food dye derived from beetles.12

Fruit Roll-Ups use Red 40, or Allura Red, which is a food dye produced as a byproduct of the petroleum industry.

It’s counted among the “coal tar” dyes along with Sunset Yellow (Yellow 6) and tartrazine (Yellow 5).13

So, while the azo dyes may not be all-natural, they are vegan-friendly.

Fruit Roll-Ups Don’t Contain Beeswax Confectioner’s Glaze

This was kind of surprising. When a fruit-flavored candy has a nice glossy sheen to it, one has to wonder the shiny surface was achieved with the help of a plant-based wax or with the use of non-vegan edible coatings like beeswax and confectioner’s glaze.

Female lac bugs secrete a substance called sticklac as they traverse tree branches. The sticklac is filtered to yield shellac, a substance used to make confectioner’s glaze which is then used in numerous food products.

Of course, beeswax is taken from bees, so it’s looked at much like honey, a food product considered off-limits by most standards.

Fruit Roll-Ups don’t seem to use any wax, so that’s good news for vegans.

By the way, this is not to say that all self-identifying vegans would avoid a food product containing something like beeswax or confectioner’s glaze, but it seems most of the community views the substance as off-limits.14

I personally don’t consume insect-derived substances, but I do know several vegans who do.

Luckily, we needn’t worry about it with this particular candy.

That’s it for the vegan status of Fruit Roll-Ups.

Just know that the candy is mostly considered vegans. But, plant-based eaters vary quite a bit in the degree to which they avoid certain grey area ingredients that are vegan if sourced from x but non-vegan if sourced from y.

Ingredients like monoglycerides fall into this category. They’re produced from glycerol and triglycerides both of which can be found in both plant oils and animal fats.

But the presence of these ingredients doesn’t render a food product non-vegan by most standards.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out the following related articles:

References

  1. The Little-Known History Of Fruit Roll-ups. http://mentalfloss.com/article/507887/little-known-history-fruit-roll-ups
  2. Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique For the Artisan Confectioner (Page 273). Peter Greweling-Ben Fink – John Wiley & Sons – 2013
  3. Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique For the Artisan Confectioner (Page 356). Peter Greweling-Ben Fink – John Wiley & Sons – 2013
  4. Fruit By The Foot Fruit Flavored Snacks Berry/Strawberry 18 ct 13.5 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Fruit-By-The-Foot-Fruit-Flavored-Snacks-Berry-Strawberry-18-ct-13-5-oz/673023240
  5. Fruit Roll Ups. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Roll-Ups
  6. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 43). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
  7. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 271). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
  8. EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources (14 July 2017). “Re‐evaluation of xanthan gum (E 415) as a food additive”. EFSA Journal. European Food Safety Authority. 15 (2): e04909.
  9. Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R., & Case, C.L. (2010). Microbiology: An Introduction, 10th edition. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Pg. 801.
  10. Xanthan Gum Is Vegan – No Egg Whites. https://www.vrg.org/blog/2018/06/28/xanthan-gum-is-vegan-no-egg-whites/
  11. NATCOL, 2013. Position on the Term “Natural Colour” and the Categorisation of Food Colours.
  12. Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
  13. Kobylewski, S., Jacobson, M.F., 2010. Food Dyes. A Rainbow of Risks. Center of Science in the Public Interest (Online) http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf
  14. Animal-derived Ingredients Resource | Living https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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