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Let’s get straight to the point. Are Skittles Vegan?
Well unfortunately the answer is no, they aren’t; and I want to tell you exactly why.
Many other sites will dance around the issue but aren’t looking into Skittles aside from their exterior package ingredient list.
I want to give you a comprehensive look at what makes Skittle non-vegan for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.
Let’s get started!
There are many varieties of Skittles on the market and not all the flavors are available year-round.
You may have heard that some are select to certain States or Countries.
But in general, it can be agreed the recipe is the same each.
Here’s what is listed on the back of the Skittles originals as ingredients.
- Corn syrup
- Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil,
- Citric Acid
- Tapioca Dextrin
- Modified Corn Starch
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
- Colors (including Tartrazine)
- Sodium Citrate
- Carnauba Wax
Now to the novice Vegan who doesn’t know much about preservatives or elements on the E’ chart, you might have heard of:
E330 (Citric Acid)
It’s a widely accepted Vegan additive that is used for acidity regulations and flavoring. The process of how it is made is rather questionable.
It often uses citrus fruits, strawberries, and even sugar beet molasses. Beforehand, the fruit needs to be fermented with Aspergillus niger, a black mold that often forms on onions and grapes.
It then goes on to be treated with sulphuric acid to produce citric acid.
Citric acid is also produced using corn-based starches that are harvested using GMOs. These chemically altered corn products are then processed into starches and fed to Aspergillus niger.
It then goes on to create citric acid. Citric acid is linked to side effects that are for people who have a natural intolerance to fruits and berries.
It has been linked to immune system weakness and allergies, especially an intolerance to Aspergillus niger.
This so-called black mold is found nearly anywhere but has recently has been increasingly a health issue.
Considering that China was responsible for 59% of the citric acid product in 2012, this number now has grown considerably.
Before the 1990s, citric acid from China was not listed as being food-grade but was sold globally as a food additive.
Opposition to GMO grown fruits and vegetables is understandably a hot topic for Vegans and vegetarians.
Anything that is genetically modified from China is never fully disclosed nor is it deemed non-Vegan.
If there is any testing, it’s done on animals first; which is certainly not Vegan.
Then there is the issue that GMOs also exploiting the need for animal testing, which is another non-Vegan product POV.
You really need to consider is citric acid imported from China, a Vegan-friendly product?
It sounds Vegan at first until you see the usage of Pepsin to produce Dextrin.
Pepsin is derived from Pig Stomach which is also found in HCL capsules used to aid stomach digestion.
Vegan HCL is produced using hydrochloric acid that does not contain Pepsin.
However, the formula to make commercial dextrin for food sweeteners and thickeners does use this formula.
Most commercial products that produce dextrin will all contain Pepsin.
Need more proof?
Take a look at this US patent that uses this process to make dextrin for sweeteners and thickeners. See items for the addition of Pepsin in refining dextrin: 0034-0054.
Thus, by process of elimination E1400 cannot be considered Kosher or Vegan due to how it happens to be produced.
Since all dextrin is produced globally in different countries all over the world, you can’t narrow down a dextrin source.
There’s also no way to tell which factory producing Skittles is using E1400 without Pepsin.
E331 (Sodium Citrates)
This is a preservative and tart-tasting sweetener that is often used in combination with citric acid.
It’s also produced the same way that citric acid is made and usually from sugar beet or GMO corn-based starches.
One select factory in China perfected the method of how sodium citrate is currently made. As a result, China is a global leader in exporting this material.
India recently issued an anti-dumping tariff on China from a recent export of sodium citrate worth 840 metric tons.
While many Vegans believe that E331 is Vegan-friendly it has the same characteristics of citric acid.
Being that China is a primary global exporter, Skittles likely has Chinese E331 in it.
E903 (Carnauba Wax)
This natural wax is plant-based that comes from the Carnauba palm. This type of plant is exclusively grown in North-eastern Brazil.
It has been the focus of ethical violations and slight levels of deforestation.
This has led to many local animals to be displaced but not to the point that they don’t return.
After harvesting is finished after one month of the year, the plants are allowed to grow back their palms.
Needless to say, it’s the exploitation of a local plant that affects the animals there. Based on that, carnauba wax may not be so Vegan-friendly.
Unlike the total deforestation that goes with Palm oil, carnauba wax plantations are well regulated. See here.
Since sugar is processed all over the world, many different countries all have a different method for making it.
It’s well known that sugar pulp needs to be filtered through bone char to bleach it.
Bone char is made from cow bone and helps filter out impurities in the sugar that turn it white.
The same can apply for brown raw sugar if the factory adds molasses to the white sugar.
This simply adds a brown color and is sold as raw sugar.
Since there’s no way of knowing which factory is using sugar that’s been processed through bone char, it’s not Vegan.
And with so many companies that manufacture Skittles, there is no regulated sugar control either.
Artificial Colors – Red #40
This color is not so much of a threat as it is for animals because of the regular testing that goes on.
Products used for animal testing including food and skincare products with coloring get flagged for not being Vegan.
Red #40 is absolutely on that list.
Aside from that, it’s made using coal tar and other petroleum products.
The main argument is animal testing that is on-going when you consider the animal cruelty aspect.
Last year the demand for palm oil in consumer food made up 74.5 million tons.
Not to mention that the destruction and deforestation that goes with harvesting palm oil.
In Borneo and Sumatra, the number of orangutans that are pushed further and further back from their homes is staggering.
Many are captured or killed when palm oil trees are collected. This is simply animal cruelty for the sake of a product.
Other animals that are affected include monkeys, tigers, sun bears, rhinos, pangolins, slow lorises, birds, and reptiles.
Because they are fleeing their homes when palm oil is collected, they become prey to poachers.
This obviously creates an open window for animal cruelty of all sorts.
This is the sole reason that non sustainable palm oil is not considered Vegan.
Organic sustainable palm oil on the other hand is vegan because it’s regulated through RSPO. But that is not the case with Skittles.
Just as you might guess, Skittles has that tiny spot that is left-over for added flavors.
The problem is that this is part of their proprietary recipe.
This means it’s a secret so nobody tries to copy their recipe.
The problem is that you can’t determine what are their added flavors?
This is the final reason why Skittles aren’t Vegan, which I admit is weak; but still valid to propose.
Based on the rest of the non-Vegan ingredients, do you need more reason?
Different Skittle Flavors: Are these Vegan?
Claimed to be Vegan.
Despite the number of different brands and flavors, many Vegan-friendly sites all claim that these are Vegan.
These are not Vegan at all, including the shell-less version Skittles Chewies’
- Skittles Original
- Skittles Wild Berry
- Skittles Wild Berry + Tropical
- Skittles Tropical
- Skittles Sour
- Skittles Holiday Mix
- Skittles America Mix
- Skittles Zoombie mix
- Skittles Sweets and Sours
- Brightside Skittles
- Skittles Darkside
- Sweet Heat Skittles
- Skittles Chewies
- Orchards Theater Skittles
- Bubble Gum Skittles
- Fizzed Fruits Skittles
- Skittles Cauldron
- Skittles Imposters
Vegan Alternatives to Skittles
Now we there are some amazing vegan alternatives to Skittles and below I will list my two favorites.
Both are non GMO, Vegan labeled by the Vegan Society and Gluten-free.
Aside from the amount of research that went into giving an honest answer to questioning: Are Skittles Vegan, they aren’t.
You’re more than free to check for yourself on the verified facts that are presented.
In the interest of living a Vegan lifestyle, it’s also not fair that other Vegan sites continually promote Skittles.
It’s also not fair that these sites haven’t taken the time to look at any of these ingredients closely.
In my opinion, corn starch and tapioca are fine replacements for gelatin but that’s where the buck stops.
Anyone who is calling themselves Vegan by eating Skittles is not a Vegan, and that’s the truth of the matter.
If they didn’t know about these ingredients, perhaps this helpful review of non-Vegan ingredients in Skittles will be helpful.