Are Starburst vegan?

By : | 0 Comments | On : June 18, 2020 | Category : Vegan blog


Regardless of your age, chances are that at some point you’ve tried Starburst, a chewy candy that is loved all over the world. Here’s whether Starburst is vegan or whether you should avoid it.

What is Starburst?

Starburst, also known as Opal Fruits, are rectangular or cuboid prism chewing candies that are currently about 15 mm by 15 mm by 8 mm in size, each wrapped in wax paper.

One of the main characteristics of these candies is that they have a fruity taste and great smoothness. In addition, they are available in different flavors: strawberry, lemon, orange, lime, apple, blackcurrant and many more options.


Starburst sweets were first marketed in the UK in 1960 by Mars Wrigley of Mars Incorporated, one of the world’s largest and most successful food companies.

Under the name Opal Fruits, these candies began to grow in popularity and in the 1970s became known for their slogan: “Opal Fruits, made to make your mouth water”, supposedly uttered by motor commentator Murray Walker.

On the other hand, these sweets began to be marketed in the United States in 1967 under the name Starburst and, in 1998, this term ended up replacing Opal Fruits in the United Kingdom. Today, the brand’s slogan is: “Inexplicably juicy”.

It is important to note that in the United States, Starburst contains gelatin and is therefore not suitable for vegans; in the United Kingdom, it is made in a different form and is suitable for vegans.

What are Starburst products made of?

Here are the main ingredients used to make classic Starburst jelly beans:

  • Fruit juice concentrate (0.5%)
  • Corn syrup.
  • Sugar.
  • Palm oil.
  • Artificial flavors.
  • Artificial colors.

Gummies starburst

Do you have any jelly?

Although gelatin does not appear in the main ingredients, the reality is that our products that are made in the United States are not the same as those made in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, gelatin is included, an ingredient that is banned from the vegan diet because its process involves various parts of the animal’s body, such as the carcasses and skin of the pig.

Today, there are many plant-based alternatives, such as pectin, to achieve that smooth texture and gumminess when killed; the problem is that the manufacturers of Starburst in the United States have opted for these ingredients and therefore they are not suitable for the vegan diet.

What about dairy?

Gelatin is the only animal-based ingredient included in the American version of Starburst candies; in other words, it contains no dairy, milk or eggs.

So, are they vegan?

Once we have seen the ingredients that make up Starburst we can say that some are vegan and others are not. That is, those sold in the UK are vegan, as they do not contain gelatine, while those sold in the US are likely to contain gelatine and therefore cannot be consumed by vegans.

Controversial Vegan Ingredients

Although we’ve already seen the ingredients that make up Starburst, which in principle can be taken by vegans, some may actually be controversial, like the ones shown below:

  • Sugar: can be very controversial because, if it’s cane sugar, it’s been processed with charcoal to get the pure white color. Although it does not contain any bone carbon particles, it is not a vegan sweetener because of the processing method it uses. Therefore, you should verify that Starburst is not made from cane sugar.
  • Palm oil and fat: although it is not derived from animals, its cultivation has effects that can harm the environment and the animals themselves; that is why many people choose products that are not made with these ingredients.
  • Natural and artificial flavors: when you bet on natural flavors you know that these are from vegetable sources.
  • Colors: some colors can be controversial in the vegan community because they are tested on animals. Even so, Starburst are made with vegetable dyes, so you can take them without any problem.

Types of Starburst

Here are the main types of Starburst you can find on the market:

United States

Traditional American Starburst is made from the following ingredients:

  • Corn syrup.
  • Sugar.
  • Hydrogenated palm kernel oil
  • Fruit juice concentrate (less than 2%)
  • Citric acid
  • Dextrin.
  • Gelatin
  • Starch-modified foods.
  • Natural and artificial flavors.
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
  • Dye.

In addition to these chews, you can find other varieties of flavors but, in all cases, the ingredients are the same: FaveRED’s Starburst, Tropical Starburst, fruity slushie, Pink Starburst.

United Kingdom

Here are the main ingredients used to make Starburst in the UK:

  • Glucose syrup.
  • Sugar.
  • Palm fat.
  • Concentrated fruit juices (1.4%)
  • Citric acid.
  • Modified starch.
  • Malic acid.
  • Dextrin.
  • Aromatizers.
  • Maltodextrin.
  • Antioxidant ascorbic acid.
  • Emulsifier Lecithin.
  • Anthocyanin colors.
  • Beta-carotene.
  • Spirulina extract; equivalent to 11.5% of fruit juice.

In this case, these chewable candies are characterized by being vegan and free of artificial colors and flavors. In addition, two flavors are currently marketed in addition to the traditional ones: Very Berry Starburst and Starburst minis, both vegan.

What candies can you eat in the United States?

If you live in the United States and you can’t have Starburst because, as we have seen, they are not vegan, don’t worry; nowadays there are many alternatives that do not contain gelatin.

One of the most common options is vegan gummi bears; these are made with natural and organic ingredients, so no animal has suffered during their production.

In addition, more and more manufacturers are opting for environmentally friendly production, doing everything possible to reduce the impact on the ozone layer.

For all these reasons, we can say that the Starburst products manufactured in the United Kingdom are vegan, while those manufactured in the United States are not because they contain gelatine. Even so, you have to be very careful because many shops in the UK sell Starburst from the United States.

So before you buy your Starburst, you should check the list of ingredients, so you can see if you can eat these products or if you have to go to another store to get them.

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