Swedish Fish are a beloved gummy candy, cherished for their chewy bite and delectable flavors. Gelatin is not a listed ingredient, which leads many to wonder if Swedish Fish are vegan, but the answer is not so straightforward.
Swedish Fish are a beloved gummy candy that may seem vegan at first glance due to the lack of gelatin, a non-vegan ingredient present in most conventional gummy candies. But are Swedish Fish vegan? The answer is complicated.
Not Vegan: Some Packages of Swedish Fish May Contain Beeswax
The brand “Swedish Fish” is distributed by Mondelēz International in North America. They come in many varieties, some of which are vegan. Swedish Fish are made of mostly sugar, and coated in vegan-friendly carnauba wax.
But sadly, not all Swedish Fish are a safe bet. Some packages may contain beeswax, so checking the ingredients list to ensure the package in question is not of this variety is recommended. Beeswax is generally not considered vegan.
The Sugar Issue
There is debate within the vegan community about the status of sugar, not because it contains animal products per se, but because most refined sugar is processed with bone char. Bone char is made from the bones of slaughtered cattle and used to decolorize sugar. Many vegans will opt for beet sugar, certified organic sugar, or other non-refined sugar substitutes and natural sweeteners in order to avoid this. It is difficult to trace the origins of the sugar used in Swedish Fish, so if you consider sugar to be non-vegan, you might want to opt for sugar-free vegan candy instead.
What About Food Coloring?
Food coloring plays a fundamental role in the presentation of candies. The food dyes listed as ingredients in Swedish Fish by Mondelez are Red No. 40 (also known as Allura Red), Yellow No. 6, Yellow No. 5, and Blue No. 1, which are considered vegan – they are not derived from animal products. That does not mean that the ingredients have not been tested on animals, though. You can only rule that out when buying products with a cruelty-free label like Leaping Bunny.
Conclusion: Is Swedish Fish Vegan?
Swedish Fish candy sold in the US often does not contain animal products. But depending on your definition of the term, Swedish Fish may still not be vegan. On top of that, Mondelēz is a corporation that has been repeatedly criticized for various reasons. Most recently, it and six other major corporations were charged with complicity in child labor and trafficking in the cocoa trade.
We at Utopia recommend buying products from brands with organic and fair trade certifications, that can trace their supply chain. Or even better: Make your own sweets – using organic (and thus vegan) sugar. Here are a few recipes you can try:
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