This three-foot-long snack has been around since 1991, making it a favorite among children. If you haven’t tasted the snack made of sugar, flavors, and thickeners, wondering whether it’s vegan, then you aren’t alone.
The product made by Betty Crocker is suitable for vegans. It doesn’t contain ingredients originated from animals. However, strict vegans might want to avoid it, considering it has a few ingredients that are controversial in the vegan industry.
The formula used to make these delicious snacks is the same as the one used to manufacture Fruit Roll-ups and Gushers. This article will give you all the possible information you need to decide whether you want to continue eating Fruit by the Foot or quit it.
Ingredients In Fruit By The Foot
Some of the products used in making Fruit by the Foot are listed below:
- Xanthan gum
- Corn Syrup
- Malic acid
- Grapes from concentrate
- Pears from concentrate
- Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil
- Citric acid
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- Locust bean gum
- Natural and artificial flavor
- Potassium citrate
- Acetylated mono and diglycerides
- Sodium citrate
Fruit by the Foot essentially doesn’t include animal by-products, so it is entirely vegan. However, sugar is considered to be a controversial ingredient in the vegan community.
Flavors Of Fruit By The Foot
Here are some of the different flavors offered by Fruit by the Foot:
- Razzle boo blitz flavor
- Berry tie-dye
- Strawberry scream flavor
- Color by the foot
- Ninja power punch
- Sweet blueberry and sour lemon
- Berry blast
- Strawberry splash
- Fiery peach
- Franken berry
- Spicy watermelon
- Cherry and orange flavor
Contrary to popular beliefs, not all types of sugar are vegan. Refined sugar or table sugar, used in baking, includes white, brown, and powdered sugar. The more common option, sugar derived from sugarcane, is considered not vegan sometimes.
That is because to make refined sugar from sugarcane. Stalks are crushed to separate the juice from the pulp. This juice is processed, filtered, and then bleached with bone char. The white color of sugar is derived from bone char.
Bone char is derived from heating cattle bones at high temperatures until they turn into black powder. That isn’t the case for every company. Some companies use granular activated charcoal to get the result.
This processing method is used only for sugarcane, and beet sugar doesn’t rely on crystallization. You can determine whether the company uses bone char in their production process by asking them directly or seeing where it’s manufactured.
Some countries like New Zealand and Australia have banned the use of bone char in the production processes of products.
Note: This type of sugar doesn’t contain bone char, but due to it being in the production process, vegans have some doubts in their minds.
How To Tell If Sugar Is Vegan
The process of manufacture of beet sugar doesn’t include bone char. Beet sugar has the same taste and texture as sugar derived from sugar cane. Some brands selling cane sugar will say that they’re vegan without proving it.
So, to know and feel confident about your choice of sugar brand, look for words like “organic, unrefined, natural, and raw.” You can rest assured that if the label uses any of these adjectives, the product hasn’t been filtered with bone char.
In the organic process of producing sugar, the juice obtained from sugar cane is boiled, spun in a centrifuge, and finally dried in the form of sugar crystals. These sugars aren’t as white as refined sugar but act as great substitutes.
There isn’t a list of types of natural or artificial ingredients used by manufacturers available for users. It might irritate you to read the “natural or artificial flavor” tag on the label and never knowing exactly what it includes. With that out of the way, artificial flavors are mostly vegan-friendly.
According to FDA, artificial flavoring means a substance used to provide a flavor that isn’t derived from the following ingredients:
- meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof
- fruit or fruit juice
- edible yeast
- vegetable or vegetable juice
- herb, leaf, root, bark, bud, or similar plant material
Hence, artificial flavors are a reference to substances not derived from any plant or animal products. It relies on substances similar to petroleum and substances created synthetically. It sounds fantastic but don’t forget that synthetically produced substances are usually tested on animals initially.
It’s not common to test artificial colors on animals, and most seem like they’re tested only once before they’re deemed safe. However, some flavors like diacetyl (butter flavor) are tested more than once due to safety concerns.
That makes it tricky. According to the evidence, most artificial flavors aren’t tested much (if at all) on animals. Still, there are a hundred others that are.
Natural flavors, like artificial flavors, are also not elaborated on the covers. Not every natural flavor is vegan.
According to FDA, natural flavor is an essential oil that has flavoring constituents derived from the following:
- meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof
- edible yeast
- fruit or fruit juice
- a spice
- vegetable or vegetable juice
- herb, leaf, bud, bark, root, or similar plant material
One widely used non-vegan flavoring is castoreum. It’s a yellowish exudate from the beaver’s castor sac, which is located between its pelvis and the base of its tail. Due to the proximity of the organ, it often contains anal secretions and urine.
This compound isn’t toxic and is described as “generally safe.” It is used in both food and perfumes in the United States and Europe. It’s usually utilized to produce vanilla flavoring but can also magnify raspberry or strawberry flavors.
They’re considered vegan (technically). Most artificial colors come from plants, except for carmine. Carmine is made from an insect called cochineal that comes from Latin America. They live on cacti, and millions of tiny insects are harvested every year to produce red food colors.
It’s used in the food industry, added to almost everything from yogurts, soft drinks, cupcakes, doughnuts to ice creams. Most other artificial colors are vegan if you’re not against animal testing. Animal testing continues with specimens experiencing a fate worse than death.
According to some people, it’s a necessary evil to make sure that the products used by people are safe. However, animal testing for flavors is condemned by others. Rats are used for experiments, but sometimes dogs are subjects for exploitive treatments.
Acetylated Mono And Diglycerides
Mono and diglycerides might use animal fats or vegetable oils as precursors for their production during the manufacturing process.
PETA and Vegetarian Resource Group have said that mono and diglycerides are considered non-vegan (or highly controversial) ingredients. They aren’t recommended for consumption by vegetarians and vegans.
There’s a big chance that mono and diglycerides are vegan. It’s impossible to know whether the ones used in the product are sourced from animal fat by reading the ingredient list. You should contact the manufacturer to find out or avoid all the products mentioned on the label with these types of fats.
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
Partially hydrogenated oils are most commonly known as trans fats. Trans fats are made when liquid oils are made solid fats by shortening and hardening margarine. These partially hydrogenated oils are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, increasing the shelf-life and flavor stability.
These oils aren’t derived from animals but are very unhealthy. The downsides of partially hydrogenated oils are given below.
- May Alter Blood Sugar
According to some research, hydrogenated vegetable oils cause harm to blood sugar control. Trans fat has exposed people to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance impairs the ability of your body to utilize insulin. Insulin helps regulate your body’s sugar levels.
- Can Increase Inflammation
Acute inflammation is a normal response of your immune system to protect it against illness and infection. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart problems, and cancer. According to studies, hydrogenated vegetable oils can increase inflammation in your body.
- Can Harm Heart
Hydrogenated vegetable oils’ trans fats can harm heart health. Some studies show that trans fats increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). At the same time, they decrease the levels of good cholesterol (HDL). These are both risk factors for heart disease. Trans fats are linked to a higher risk of strokes and heart problems.
Fruit By The Foot is consumable by vegans. Although it doesn’t contain animal ingredients and by-products directly, some vegans refuse to eat it due to some ingredients being by-products of animal cruelty and testing.
It’s a personal choice at the end of the day. They’re made with some unhealthy and questionably non-vegan products. However, don’t give these ingredients too much importance as nothing is proven.