The answer to “Is Starburst vegan?” is a general ‘yes’. This means technically the sweets do not contain any meat or dairy products. However, there is a murky area within the ingredients which some vegans may take issue with.
This article investigates whether Starburst is fully vegan in the UK…
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What is Starburst?
Starburst (formally known as Opal Fruits) is the brand name of the square-shaped, fruity soft confectionery sweets. They were originally manufactured by The Wrigley Company, which today is a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated.
They have been a popular sweet treat in the UK since the 1960s.
Starburst has different varieties, including Tropical, Sour, FaveREDs, Watermelon, Very Berry, Superfruit, Summer Blast, and Original. The original flavours are blackcurrant, lemon and lime, orange, and strawberry.
They also come in tropical flavours, such as: strawberry banana, pineapple, mango melon, cherry, and kiwi.
The company changed the name from Opal Fruits to Starburst in 1998.
Is Starburst Vegan?
At present, there are no ingredients in Starburst (as sold in the UK) that are considered not vegan. So, yes, Starburst is generally considered vegan.
However, there are one or two ingredients that some vegans avoid for ethical reasons.
What are Starburst’s UK Ingredients?
- Glucose Syrup
- Palm Fat
- Concentrated Fruit Juices 1.4%* (Apple, Orange, Blackcurrant, Strawberry, Lime, Lemon)
- Acid Citric Acid
- Modified Starch
- Acid Malic Acid
- Antioxidant Ascorbic Acid
- Emulsifier Lecithin
- Colours Anthocyanins
- Spirulina Extract
*Equivalent to 11.5% Fruit Juice
What is the Nutritional Value of Starburst?
Per 100 g / 45 g (%*)
- Energy: 1713 kJ 771 kJ (9%)
- 405 kcal / 182 kcal (9%)
- Fat: 7.3 g / 3.3 g (5%)
- Fat of which saturates: 4.1 g / 1.8 g (9%)
- Carbohydrate: 83.9 g / 37.8 g (15%)
- Carbs of which Sugars: 83.1 g / 37.4 g (42%)
- Protein: 0 g / 0 g (0%)
- Salt: 0.01 g / 0 g (0%)
- Portions per Pack: 1, Portion Size: 45 g
- *Reference Intake of an Average Adult (8400 kJ/2000 kcal)
Why Do Some Vegans Not Consider Starburst Vegan?
Many people choose to follow a vegan diet or lifestyle for reasons of ethics; meaning for the welfare of animals and to maintain the planet we live on (as meat agriculture industry isn’t environmentally-friendly or particularly ethically-sound), which means they avoid any products that contribute to the desecration of the world we live in, as well as the culling of animals.
Some of these ingredients include:
- Palm fat/oil, which contributes to mass deforestation.
- Flavourings, which often aren’t specified as to what makes up these flavourings and if they are vegan-friendly or not.
- White cane sugar, which is often processed using animal bone char.
- Food colourings, such as Red 20, which is often sourced from the wing secretions of bugs.
Are Starburst Minis Vegans?
The ingredients of Starburst Minis are almost the same as those of the originals, with trace sweet potato and radish included. Therefore, these are also fine for vegans to eat.
Is Starburst Chewing Gum Vegan?
Starburst’s sugar-free chewing gum contains various sweeteners, including xylitol, but these are usually plant-derived, or manufactured in a lab, so are vegan-friendly. Carnauba wax is also added as a glazing agent, but this is derived from a tree that is native to Brazil.
So, as with the above products, there are no ingredients that would be off-putting to most vegans any more than those that exist in the original Starburst.
Are Starburst Jelly Beans Vegan?
Fortunately, Starburst’s Jelly Beans are also vegan-friendly too.
However, it is important to note that this is only the case with the UK version. Our version uses carnauba wax, whereas the American version includes beeswax, so UK vegans are generally fine to eat these.
Starburst Vegan Alternatives Available in the UK
If some of the ingredients within Starburst don’t appeal to you, here are several fully-vegan similar alternatives currently available in the UK:
So, we have learned that Starburst is generally considered vegan-friendly in the UK.
However, they do contain one or two ingredients that may not sit well with all vegans, such as palm fats (which is derived from palm oil), which contribute towards huge deforestation in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Starburst sister products, such as Starburst Minis and Starburst Chewing Gum are also considered vegan. However, this tends to be subjective to the UK versions of these treats.
If you purchase these from America (by Amazon, for example) it is very probable that your Starburst will contain beeswax, and potentially other non-vegan ingredients, so this needs to be taken into consideration.
So, generally Starburst is suitable for vegans.
However, if any of the ingredients do not appeal, which can be the case for many vegans on the subject of ingredients such as palm fat, there are a few fully-vegan alternatives, such as Mambas Fruit Chews, Air Heads Mini Taffy and Assorted Mini Laffy Taffy which do not contain any ‘nasties’.
As you can see from the ingredients above, Starburst sweets are high in sugar and fat and generally contain no nutritional benefits, therefore should be enjoyed as an occasional treat only.