Answer: It depends.
These candies are just pieces of dried, chewy, and stretchy fruit strips, so what is the fuss all about? Based on all the ingredients in Fruit Roll-Ups, none of them are directly derived from animal products. That right there answers the question.
But truth be told, even though Fruit Roll-Ups are considered vegan by most standards, veganism isn’t just about not eating animals but objecting to animal cruelty too. There are a handful of controversial ingredients found in this product that are surely not animal-sourced but may go through animal testing.
This is why plant-eaters tend to be skeptical about Fruit Roll-Ups. But don’t worry! We’re here to break everything down to help you find answers to your doubts and by the end of this article, you may have a clearer view of where you stand with this.
What Are The Ingredients Of Fruit Roll-Ups?
According to their maker, the ingredients of Fruit Roll-Ups are as follows and we’ve labeled them first as “Vegan-Safe” and “Vegan… But” to give you a general overview before we go beyond the superficial stuff:
|Pear Puree Concentrate||Vegan-Safe|
|Palm Oil||Vegan… But|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)||Vegan-Safe|
|Acetylated Monoglycerides||Vegan… But|
|Natural Flavor||Vegan… But|
|Colors (Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1)||Vegan… But|
Usually, sugar is derived from sugar cane or sugar beets, so it is vegan. What’s questionable is that the bleaching and refining process of most sugars are through bone black or bone charring which are sourced from burned animal bones. Although there are alternative processes available, such as using activated charcoal, the only way consumers can know for sure how sugar in Fruit Roll-Ups is bleached and refined is by contacting and finding answers from the manufacturer, but unfortunately, as of today, they have no comments on this. It is also important to note that consuming sugars that underwent the bone char process does not mean ingesting the dead bones of the animal.
Just like sugar, palm oil is naturally-sourced and vegan. It is derived from the fruits of palm trees but it has been in controversy because of bad practices, especially with regards to deforestation that affects the animal kingdom. The most famous known species affected by this are the orangutan family.
Although there are certain RSPO accredited palm oils to show their sustainability, there are still a lot of palm oils that are not certified. Also, recent investigations showed that even certified industries are still involved in unethical and abusive processes until now.
Monoglycerides / Acetylated Monoglycerides
These ingredients act as an emulsifier to improve the consistency and texture of Fruit Roll-Ups. Furthermore, it helps prevent the stickiness of the product. A lot of vegans are skeptical about this since they are either sourced from animals or from plants. Although there have been reports that Fruit Roll-Ups contain monoglycerides that are plant-based, there is a need to check in with the manufacturer to be really sure.
Another reason why is because it is formed from glycerol and fatty acids, so for lifestyle-conscious individuals, it is really advisable to limit fat intake.
These are ingredients that also raise doubts in the vegan community since “Natural” is a very vague and general term. It could mean that they are from natural sources such as microbes, animals, and plants. There are no absolute ways to determine what natural flavors these are unless being stated or confirmed by the manufacturer. With regards to Fruit Roll-Ups, it was not stated so we are really in the gray area here.
Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, and Blue 1 are all found in Fruit Roll-Ups as coloring agents. Red 40 is derived from coal tar, while Yellow 5 & 6 and Blue 1 are derived from petroleum. These are all artificially sourced but they are approved for use because they all passed animal testing. Countless animals have not only suffered but actually died during the process for these dyes to make it to our groceries and pantries. They were exposed to hazardous conditions just for the sake of human gain and consumption at a given amount.
However, large and frequent intake of these dyes can pose threats to our health as well, especially to children. So these are the types of ingredients we should look out for when checking the label on the products we buy.
Are Fruit Roll-Ups Healthy?
Since we’ve already gone through the questionable ingredients, let’s see what this fruity snack can still offer us with its vegan-safe ingredients. Here’s a table that might help you weigh in the factors. An important note you can always put in mind is a healthy ingredient can become a poison based on the dose or amount of consumption.
|Corn Syrup||Corn Starch||High consumption may lead to obesity and overweight problems.|
|Pear Puree Concentrate||Fresh Pear Fruit||Adds sweetness and nutritional value to your snack but isn’t counted as added sugar according to FDA.|
|Maltodextrin||Starch||Over-consumption may lead to blood sugar spikes, weight gain, and an increase in body fat.|
|Citric Acid||Citrus Fruits||PETA approved this as an alternative to animal-derived acids but high and constant consumption may cause tooth decay.|
|Sodium Citrate||Citric Acid||A food additive that is considered safe by FDA when used in food with no limitation other than Current Good Manufacturing Practice.|
|Fruit Pectin||Fruit||Plant-based alternative for gelatin. They are made up of mostly carbohydrates and some traces of proteins.|
|Malic Acid||Fruit or Vegetables||An additive that gives a sour taste and is considered generally safe for consumption.|
|Vitamin C||Commercially produced from glucose derived from starches.||Well known for aiding our immune system as an essential, water-soluble vitamin.|
Other Alternatives for Fruit Roll Ups
There is one brand that actually gets mixed up with Fruit Roll-Ups and it is Fruit by the Foot. They are from the same company and they are also vegan with some gray areas. You can find more information and comparison between the two of them here.
In case you don’t sit well with Fruit Roll-Ups or Fruit by the Foot, there are other alternatives for your sweet tooth cravings. If you want a fruit snack that’s vegan-safe with no sodium, no fat, no added sugars, and lesser carbohydrates, Bear Fruit Snack Rolls are your go-to.
Another great alternative that’s vegan-friendly is Stretch Island Fruit Leather. They have fewer calories found in every pack, no artificial flavors or colors, are non-GMO, and are made exclusively with real fruit puree.
If you’re still in the gray area but really want fruity goodness, there are a lot of DIY recipes across the internet for Fruit Roll-Ups. This may be beneficial in a way that you know exactly what you used in the process and you can even customize or tweak it into a healthier version especially if you’re on a diet. You’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it is to make.
Fruit Roll-Ups have non-animal derived ingredients. Since the questionable ingredients are kept in minimal quantity in every pack, this snack really sits well with most vegans and their standards but a number of people in the community with a stricter vegan practice view Fruit Roll-Ups as unacceptable. So it really boils down to your specific principles and perspective.
Another message from PETA that would be great in pondering is the fact that no one can avoid every single animal ingredient. According to them, being vegan is about helping animals, not maintaining personal purity. Boycotting products that may contain traces of animal products may be harmful to animals in the long run because it may cause difficulty for vegan businesses to actually offer alternatives for meat.