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If you claim yourself as a sour gummy lover, Sour Patch Kids is definitely on your personal choice list. Even though it’s a perfect candy for all age ranges starting from toddlers to even 60 years old, it can often raise some concerns in your mind. 

We’ve already made our judgment on whether this contains any gluten ingredients or not. Hence, in case you are interested to know, don’t forget to spend a few minutes giving this a read and know for yourself!

However, there is something else you might be wondering about before purchasing these Sour Patch candies. Are they vegan-friendly or not? Well, before giving any further explanation to this, we’d like you to go through a few things beforehand. So, let’s get straight to the facts.

Are Sour Patch Kids vegan?

are sour patch kids vegan
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Sour Patch Kids: Verifiable ingredients list 

First things first, let’s take a look into the basic ingredients as shown in the packaging. These commonly include the following,

1. Sugar 
2. Invert sugar
3. Corn syrup
4. Modified corn starch
5. Tartaric acid in less than 2 percent concentration
6. Citric acid
7. Natural and artificial flavoring that include- Yellow 5. Yellow 6, Red 40, and Blue 1.

As we can see from the list of ingredients printed, they are all derived from plant sources and don’t include any animal-derived ingredient. However, even with no such questionable ingredients in the list that can prove this chewy candy to be non-vegan, there’s definitely a catch. Let’s dig in a little deeper, shall we?

Controversial ingredients from plant sources

sour patch kids ingredients

Although at first glance, some plant-based ingredients might seem completely vegan-friendly, this isn’t often the case. Without further ado, we’ll explain you why it’s more than true when it comes to chewy candy snack such as the Sour Patch Kids candies.
Type of sugar used in sour candy

Now, as we all know, sugar is one of the main ingredients in candy products that are made for the sweet tooth people. The sugar industry derives its bulk amount from either sugar-beets or sugarcane. The refining process of beet-sugar is considered entirely vegan and safe to eat.

However, the Sour Patch Kids manufacturing company uses cane sugar as their staple ingredient. That being said, refined cane sugar goes through an extensive refining process that almost always includes the use of bone char. But does the use of animal bones in refined sugar make it non-vegan? Before we conclude, we’d like to clarify what these bone char ingredients really are.

Refining with bone char: Vegan or non-vegan ingredients?

Bone char, which we also refer to as natural carbon, is a product that is made from bones of cattle. Whenever cattle such as cows are slaughtered in south Asian countries including India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the bone of cattle is sold off around the world for sugar refining process. 

This is made by heating bones of cattle at high temperatures that results in its reduction to carbon. The use of these bone char particles, or the carbon itself works as a decolorizing filter and gives the organic cane sugar a perfect crystal white color. Some companies also tend to use granular carbon for the purpose, which allows it to avoid being labelled as non-vegan sugars.

All things considered, we looked into the manufacturing of cane sugar white used by Mondelez International, the producer of Sour Patch gummy candy. And we weren’t surprised at all to discover the failure of using granular carbon. That definitely leads us to our answer- these popular candies use bone char for refinement!

Nevertheless, the common ingredients itself don’t contain any bone residues. So, the final choice is yours to make.

Artificial ingredients: Colors and flavors

sour patch kids

When it comes to man-made ingredients such as artificial flavors and colors, the path can be quite confusing. The artificial colors used in these sour jelly sweets have to go through rigorous testing trials in order to test their side effects. For such purposes, animal testing is done on a variety of living creatures, such as- mice, dogs and as such after being manufactured in the lab.

However, another so-called non-animal alternative as showcased by the food industry is the use of petroleum. Food colors used in Sour Patch Kids candies, namely- Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 are known to be petroleum-based colours. Nonetheless, these derivatives of petroleum are also made to go through extensive animal testing for avoiding potential health issues.

Although some vegans might not be perplexed by this, most are. This is due to the fact that the effects of testing on animals can often lead to neurotoxicity resulting in different form of tumors, or even death. Also, most animals are known to be euthanized at the end of trials.

Hence, strict vegans who have made the choice of avoiding products related to animal cruelty, stay away from this sour candy!

Is gelatin present in the ingredient list?

For your knowledge, gelatin is known as a bonding agent that keeps the sour sweets bound together into a thick, gooey consistency. Made from boiled skin, bones, and ligaments of animals, gelatin falls under the list of obvious animal ingredients.

However, following the ingredients label of these multi-coloured sweets, we could see no such presence of gelatin. Although this might be quite reassuring for most of you, we were not satisfied at all and decided to research a bit more.

After extensive research, we could conclude with two possible scenarios. Firstly, the alternative vegan-friendly gelling agent used in Sour Patch Kids could be the use of modified corn starch that gives off the gummy texture.

Secondly, it is definitely a candy with gelatin. To back up our claims, we looked into the labels of Sour Patch manufactures in different countries and got our evidence! The packaging labels in Sour Patch Kids made in the U.K lists to have used gelatin in their candies.

Although this might come as a sad news for vegans, this sour candy might have gelatin in their other versions as well and probably were not listed due to it being a proprietary ingredient.

Final Verdict: Vegan or Non-Vegan?

Since we have already discussed about the possible controversial confectionery ingredient in Sour Patch Kids, it’s now time to announce our final answer. With a sad and heavy heart, we are bound to conclude that although these candies don’t use ingredients derived from animal sources, they are in fact non-vegan due to the following reasons-

1. The sugar may not be vegan due to use of bone chars for de-colorizing outcomes. Unless of course granular carbon is used in the process, it can’t be labelled as vegan. Guess we’ll have to wait for the manufacturer to be clearer about the refinement process of their sugar!

2. Vegans who have issues with animal cruelty and want to avoid such products, this is definitely a non-vegan option for them.

3. Until and unless you’re opting for the U.K version of Sour Patch Kids, the labels seem to claim to be vegan-friendly. Nevertheless, we will be needing some clarification from the manufacturing company regarding the use of gelatin in their gummy products as well.

However, if you are unbothered by the indirect use of animals and animal products in such cases, feel free to give this sour gummy a try!

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I hope you liked the article. Stay tuned with Playground Dad.


This is Robert. Blessed with two baby girls. A working dad and a part-time blogger. Love cycling with my family and I will never stop exploring.Playground Dad is my baby and the goal is to help working parents to pick the best baby products within budget.

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