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Betty Crocker has been providing us with fruit gushers since 1991 with a variety of flavors that are being enjoyed by children and adults a like. Finding candy options that suits the vegan diet can be tricky from time to time, so today I will answer the question, are Gushers vegan?
Fruit Gushers are vegan. They don’t contain any ingredients derived from animals. There are some questionable ingredients found in Fruit Gushers such as palm oil and artificial colors. The palm oil is RSPO certified, making it vegan-friendly, but the artificial colors makes Fruit Gusher unfit for ethical vegans.
Below is a table showing flavors of Fruit Gushers and its vegan status.
|Fruit Gushers Variety Pack||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
|Fruit Gushers Super Sour Berry||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
|Fruit Gushers Flavor Mixers||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
|Fruit Gushers Strawberry Splash||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
|Fruit Gushers Mouth Mixers||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
|Fruit Gushers Tropical||Vegan.||View On Amazon|
Fruit Gushers Ingredients
Let’s take a look at the ingredients.
Even tho ingredients might not be derived from animals, they can still be non-vegan.
Below are the ingredients I found throughout the Fruit Gushers flavors.
- Corn Syrup
- Dried Corn Syrup
- Pear Puree Concentrate
- Grape Juice From Concentrate
- Modified Corn Starch
- Cottonseed Oil
- Palm oil
- Citric Acid
- Sodium citrate
- Maltic Acid
- Vitamin C (Absorbic acid)
- Natural Flavors
- Potassium Citrate
- Artificial Colors (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5&6)
- Xanthan Gum
I highlighted the ingredients that we need to take a closer look at.
The sugar used in Fruits Gushers are beet sugar and is indeed 100% vegan-friendly. While this disclaimer is openly stated, it doesn’t give any indication outside the USA what kind of sugar is used in other countries. As contracts are sold to produce Gushers all over UK.
There is a big issue regarding the sugar in the candy industry. The most common sugar used is refined cane sugar. Raw cane sugar is vegan-friendly, but when it’s refined it becomes an issue for a lot of vegans.
In the refining process the cane sugar is also bleached to fit the candy better and a normal practice is to use bone char from dead cows. This is a hot topic in the vegan community, making a lot of vegan stay away from refined cane sugar.
Modified Corn Starch
This is one aspect of the EU that’s much tighter than the USA as far as being clear about ingredients. In the US, modified corn starch doesn’t sound threatening.
The truth is that genetically modified corn starch has always been an issue with Vegetarians and Vegans. And this is a worrying part of this snack ingredient.
GMOs are not organic and have been tampered with genetically. It’s purely an ethical question of organic Vs GMO-altered.
Another troubling aspect of GMO crops is the high amount of herbicide needed to produce these crops. It can damage the surrounding ecosystem, impacting the environment very negatively.
Palm oil is another controversial ingredient and hot topic for discussions in the vegan community. The main reason for this the severe deforestation taking place, leaving animals such as orangutans and rhinos without a home.
This exploitation of animals has left the vegan community angry and a lot of vegan tend to stay away from palm oil all together.
Now with that said, there is not-for-profit organisation called Roundtable For Sustainable Palm oil also known as RSPO, that helps companies product sustainable palm oil and consumers to buy sustainable palm oil.
General Mills Inc is a RSPO member, which makes the palm oil in Fruit Gusher indeed vegan-friendly.
Red #40, Blue #1, Yellow 5&6
All of these colors are tested on animals through various products that contain these colors.
They are all suspected of causing hyperactivity in children too, which is why they are considered bad.
Aside from the exploitation of animal testing, I’m afraid that children getting side effects is more concerning.
It’s an ethical point of view that makes it hard to swallow, knowing these colors are used on animals too.
Tartrazine (in Yellow #5)
This color has been banned in Norway and Austria having been linked to hyperactivity in children. It’s also a product that should be consumed in large quantities because of the side effects.
Because it’s often used for testing on rabbits, it’s very irritating to the eyes. Once again, cosmetics that use this color are testing them on hairless animals first.
Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed
This isn’t such a bad item until you find that this contains large amounts of trans fats. When the oil is partially hydrogenated to have more fatty solids, you get this mixture. It’s used as a food thickener and is notorious for creating higher cholesterol.
This takes years to develop but for some people is much sooner due to their lifestyle or diet. This can lead to heart disease. It’s unhealthy, as an additive, and that all there is to it.
The citric acid that General Mills uses contains GMOs that are genetically modified. These come from China and are in 80% of the food we consume containing citric acid.
It boils down to an ethical question about your taste for GMOs. Since so much citric acid is exported by China every year, they are a global leader at producing it.
E331 (Sodium Citrates)
Just like citric acid, this additive also contains GMOs. And it also happens to be another big export from China. Since the FDA doesn’t have any control over how China produces these seemly harmless exports it’s also an ethical question.
General Mills uses natural flavors on top of the ingredients in Gushers. This helps to enhance the fruity flavors or add flavors that taste similar to them. There are watermelon and strawberry flavored Gushers, but these fruits aren’t part of the ingredients.
This means that natural flavors create this illusion. This means that Castoreum may be used which is from the scent gland of a beaver.
These are considered vegan and vegetarian friendly according to the US government.
Vegan Alternative To Fruit Gushers
Here are my two favorite vegan alternatives to Fruit Gushers.
Organic Fruit Snacks from YumEarth.
Are Fruit Gushers Sustainable?
Based on the ethical practice of using GMOs, I would have to say that this product isn’t sustainable. It’s not supporting anything with the usage of GMOs since these new strains that are developed haven’t fully been tested.
As seen with many kinds of food modifications in the 1960s. Cows that had been given steroids in the 1960s caused children to grow faster.
Genetically modified plants are no different since the results haven’t been studied enough.
Are Fruit Gushers Healthy?
The sad part is that Gushers are high in sugar and have many trans fats. There’s also an issue that the food colors used may cause hyperactivity in children. Not just one, but this includes all of the colors that Gushers makes.
Because the sugar content is so high, it makes a nice picker-upper if you eat one small package. There aren’t so many to a package so more than one is often eaten.
That’s why they aren’t healthy since this sugar isn’t burned off so easily.
Did Gushers Change?
It seems that General Mills was part of a major lawsuit in 2011 for deceptive product advertisements. It wasn’t until 2013 that a picture of a strawberry was removed from packaging artwork.
Gushers do not contain any strawberry fruit whatsoever, since it comes from natural flavor additives. This didn’t change the recipe they currently use which still advertises a strawberry flavor.
Many advocates are still not satisfied with the misuse of a flavor that is not natural by any means.
Are Gushers Mainly Sugar?
The big issue that Gushers have mostly sugar and hydrogenated fats are very bad for cholesterol. While this doesn’t affect kids so often, it leads to obesity and the excess storage of fat.
The actual amount of sugar per Gusher candy inside a 25-gram pouch is 90 calories. There are 17 grams of sugar within that 25-gram pouch.
This means you would need to walk for 20 minutes to burn off that sugar.
Most people aren’t doing this at all.
Once again, coming back to the original question are Gushers vegan? The answer is yes!
I can’t be so certain that any sugar in Europe is not going to be refined cane sugar. It comes down to the agreement that General Mills has with its vendors who produce Gushers. This I itself would need to be a country by country research.
Natural flavors are another big issue that will always be a question since General Mills is not going to say. This is a secret recipe that includes strawberry or watermelon flavors.
How these are created can only lead to speculation.