Starburst candies are among some of the most recognizable candies in the world.
Though Starburst started its journey in the United Kingdom as Opal Fruits, it is an easy thing to say that Americans love Starbursts too.
Their signature fruit-flavored chewy toffee candy cubes are irresistibly sweet and always make you want to go back and unwrap “just one more”.
However, with more and more Americans waking up to animal-derived ingredients in candy, vegans everywhere are wondering where Starburst fits into all of this.
Dispelling the myths and delivering the facts on Starburst and its vegan status is what this article is all about. So let’s start digging!
Are Starburst Candies Vegan?
This answer to this question really does depend on where you live and where in the world Starburst is produced.
If you live in the U.S, it is with great sadness that we must inform you that Starburst candies and chews are not vegan.
This means any Starburst that is made and sold on U.S soil is not suitable for people on a vegan diet.
The reason is, that they contain a ghastly animal-derived ingredient that goes by the name of gelatin. Gelatin is one of the worst offenders in candy that is still sold today.
Many candy brands have intentionally stricken gelatin from their candies in the hope to align with a more conscious customer base just like you.
Unfortunately, Starburst U.S haven’t quite got up to speed with the modern candy-making way.
To make matters even worse, Starburst U.S are still using another animal-derived product in their candy as well.
Confectioner’s glaze is produced from the secretions of the lac beetle, pretty gross right! Unfortunately, this too is featured in Starburst’s chewy candy (You might also want to check Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?) bites.
What Are The Ingredients In Starburst?
Now that you know Starburst is sadly not vegan, we thought it would be wise to take a look at the rest of the ingredient list for a closer inspection.
With Starburst Original Fruit Chews being the company’s most popular offering here in the U.S, it makes sense to start here.
The Starburst Original Fruit Chews ingredient list is as follows: corn syrup, sugar, citric acid, hydrogenated palm oil, gelatin, apple juice from concentrate, tapioca (Also check out Is Boba Vegan?) dextrin, modified corn starch, and natural and artificial flavors – red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1.
As you can see a lot of ingredients go into making a Starburst Original Fruit Chew taste and look good.
To help you unpack this contrived ingredient list from a vegan perspective, we are going to feature each ingredient that has the potential to be animal-derived.
As we previously hinted, gelatin is the worst offender when it comes to the Starburst ingredient lineup. Why?
Because the protein of gelatin is collected by way of boiling down the skin, tendons, bones, and ligaments of animals.
Though gelatin can technically be obtained from most mammals, it is, in general, a byproduct of both the cow and pig meat industries.
It is unclear whether the sugar in Starburst chews has animal-derived products in it. In saying that, the fact that Starburst still uses gelatin makes you question everything that they do.
In the food industry, white sugar will often gain its color from a process that unfortunately uses animal bone char.
If a food manufacturer like Starburst doesn’t explicitly say where the source of their natural food flavors comes from, it is always a good idea to question them.
Do All U.S Starburst Products Have Gelatin?
You are now well aware that U.S Starburst candies contain gelatin, but is there any glimmer of hope on the gelatin-free Starburst candy front?
Well, we have some good news and we have some bad news on the subject. The good news is that one of their candies (Also check out Are Skittles Vegan?) is made without gelatin.
It is the Starburst Mini that does not contain any trace of gelatin (Check out Is Gelatin Vegan?).
The bad news is that they, unfortunately, contain animal-derived confectioners’ glaze. Do you know the icky stuff that is made from the secretions of lac beetles?
Yeah, that stuff! For this reason, even Starburst Minis are not classed as a “vegan-friendly candy”. This is starting to look pretty bleak for any vegans who have a pre-existing Starburst addiction now, isn’t it?
However, before you give up all hope and move on to a new favorite candy brand, there is one more little glimmer of hope for you in the next section.
Are UK-Made Starburst Candies Vegan?
While U.S-made Starburst candies are unfortunately not vegan, the Starburst candies produced across the pond aren’t reliant on animal products to be delicious.
That’s right, most of the Starburst candy that is made in the UK contains absolutely no gelatin as well as not a trace of confectioner’s glaze. Pretty cool right?
The only questionable ingredient that some UK-made Starburst candies feature is natural colors and flavors that (maybe) derived from animal products.
It is hard to find some concrete evidence on this, but considering their business values are more aligned with vegan values, it is likely that these ingredients are also animal free.
This begs the question: How do you get your candy-craving little hands on some UK-made Starburst candy?
If you are willing to pay extra for the privilege, you can source UK-made Starburst candy online via Amazon and other E-commerce sites.
However, as with every product that is shipped and flown across the world, buying Starburst from across the pond will greatly increase its carbon footprint.
If you are deciding to eat vegan based on environmental reasons, this may be another big no-no for you. But, of course, we will leave this judgment up to you.
So there you go. Starburst made here in the U.S is unfortunately still very much not aligned with a vegan diet and way of life.
Hopefully, with the push toward vegetarian and vegan diets growing each year, companies like Starburst, though slow off the mark, will be able to see into the future and go vegan-friendly soon.