Is fruit roll-up vegan?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is fruit roll-up vegan?” and will discuss the vegan ingredients of fruit roll-ups.

Is fruit roll-up vegan?

Yes, fruit roll-up is vegan. Fruit roll-ups are completely free of all animal ingredients, including non-vegan colors such as Carmine. Their components are clear and uncomplicated. Gelatin is not present in fruit roll-ups, nor is there anything else of the type. These are essentially dried fruit strips or rather dry corn syrup strips with a little fruit juice and colorings.

Ingredients of Fruit Roll-Ups

Fruit roll-ups are a type of fruit product called fruit leather. Fruit leather is a sheet or flexible strip of dried fruit that is made typically by hot air drying of fruit puree or fruit juice concentrate, with or without the addition of other ingredients. Dehydration is the most important step for fruit leather production (1).

Fruit Roll-Ups often include corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, pear puree concentration, and palm oil as their primary components. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and acetylated monoglycerides, as well as natural taste and color, must be less than 2% of the total ingredients (red 40, blue 1, yellow 5, and yellow 6).

Flavor Mixers, Strawberry Sensation, Jolly Rancher, Sour, Tropical Tie-Dye, Blastin’ Berry Hot Colors, and Variety Pack are all listed on the Betty Crocker website. However, the components of each taste are almost the same. When tartaric acid is added to the Sour taste, there is a noticeable change. Food coloring chemicals are the major variation in the flavors of Fruit Roll-Ups, however, there are also minor changes.

Occasionally, the preparation of fruit leathers of some fruits can be improved by the addition of thickeners, such as starch, pectin, gelatin, alginate, gums, and cellulose derivatives that can enhance the pulp spreading and the drying process. The use of preservatives (sulfur dioxide and sorbic acid) and other ingredients (e.g., prebiotics) has the goal of enhancing product stability and its physicochemical, nutritional, and sensory properties. Therefore, it is important to read the ingredients list of these products, which may not be vegan (1).

In the food and beverage sector, sugar is often employed as a sweetener in products such as Fruit Roll-Ups. Many people believe that sugar is vegan since it comes from a plant source like sugarcane or sugar beets, however, this is not always the case. Sugar, on the other hand, may become non-vegan if it is produced in an inhumane manner. In the sugar manufacturing process, a step called Decolorization may include the use of bone char, which consists of sintered long bones of cattle, and is composed of calcium hydroxyapatite (80–85%) in a carbon matrix (2). 

To make it more attractive to a broader consumer base even though it is already edible after extraction, sugar businesses refine the sugar further. Sugar manufacturing involves a variety of refining procedures, and each company has the option of using a different approach. Filtration, for example, is a popular procedure.

Sugar

Sugar must be filtered to remove non-sugar components to enhance its purity. Decolorization procedures include treating the clarified liquor with various filtration media, such as bone char, granular activated carbon, powdered activated carbon, or ion-exchange resin, either alone or in some combination (2). 

There are a variety of filtering technologies used in the sugar sector. Granulated carbon, for example, is used in several sectors. Bone char, on the other hand, is used by certain firms. An animal’s burnt skeleton is known as “bone char.” Despite its low cost, it is an excellent filter material. However, bone char-filter sugar is no longer deemed vegan since it entailed the use of an animal product.

Bone char (granular beads of 1–1.5 mm) is generally packed into cylindrical columns 6.1–7.6 m high and about 3.1 m in diameter. Liquor flow through bone char is about 1500 gal/h over 30–60 h. After washing, the spent carbonaceous adsorbent is transferred to regenerating equipment consisting of dryers, kilns, and coolers. Bone char is regenerated at 540–600°C in a controlled amount of air. After regeneration, the adsorbent is returned to the system for a new decolorizing cycle. The final consumption of bone char is ~0.1–0.3% on melt (2).

Bone char is a concern in the sugar business since it is difficult to tell whether a specific manufacturer employs bone char. Additionally, huge food producers who employ sugar in their goods are making the situation much more difficult. Multiple sugar sources are very commonplace for these food makers, making it even more difficult to determine if the sugar they use was created using bone char.

Vegans from other countries are less worried about their sugar intake since the practice of employing bone char in the sugar business is more common in the United States.

Spices and Herbs

When it comes to flavoring, natural flavors are a prevalent ingredient in many foods and drinks. As opposed to other additives, natural flavorings serve mainly as a flavoring agent. In contrast to manufactured flavor components, the word “ingredient” covers a wide range of naturally occurring chemicals. The definition of natural taste is an issue for vegans. According to the FDA, natural flavors are defined as the following:

Flavor constituents extracted from plant material such as a spice or fruit, a vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, or other plant material such as herb, bark, bud, root or leaf, meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof that have a significant flavoring function rather than a nutritional function in food.

Even though vegans are obliged to use only natural ingredients in their food, the definition of natural taste does not assist them to understand what they are ingesting. Natural tastes include both animal and plant sources, according to the description above. Many vegans feel that natural flavors are a gray area ingredient since there is no way to tell for sure whether a product that incorporates natural flavors is vegan or not – unless it is explicitly mentioned in the label or verified by the manufacturer.

Fruit leather generally does not contain flavor enhancers, since it is made of concentrated fruits, which are sources of carbohydrates, naturally occuring sugars, acids and alcohols, and other aromatic compounds. However, hydrocolloids, such as starch, pectin, gelatin, alginate, gums, and cellulose derivatives, are commonly used as thickeners and gelling agents for fruit leather preparation to enhance the puree rheological properties and the fruit leather texture (1). Therefore, these products may contain non-vegan ingredients. 

Colorants for food

In the case of children’s snacks, color is an essential aspect of the customer experience. Fruit Roll-Ups, on the other hand, are no surprise since they include food coloring additives. Vegans may use a wide variety of food coloring agents, many of which are permitted. However, there is a lot of dispute about the use of artificial colorants.

A synthetic coloring agent is made in the laboratory rather than derived from a natural source. The fact that artificial coloring agents are synthetic also implies that they are fully free of animal ingredients, making them suitable for vegan diets. The use of artificial coloring compounds in vegan goods is still prohibited by some vegans because of an ethical issue.

Risk assessment of food additives are done by an independent, international expert scientific group known as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Only the food additives that have undergone JECFA safety assessment, and found not to present appreciable health risk to the consumers, can be used. This applies whether the food additives come from a natural source or just synthetic. The JECFA evaluations are based on the scientific reviews of all the available toxicological, biochemical, and any other relevant data on a given additive, such as research studies, mandatory tests in animals, and observations in humans (3).

It is crucial to ensure that artificial coloring compounds are safe for human ingestion since they are fully synthetic. This means that multiple food safety agencies would have to conduct several safety studies before approving artificial coloring chemicals. However, animal models have long been used to assess the safety of artificial coloring compounds. Humane treatment of animals in safety testing is regarded as very unethical because of this practice.

Animal experimentation is particularly heinous when technological alternatives are available for safety testing. Cell models and computer simulations may also be used as alternatives (i.e., the use of computer modeling).

Fruit Roll-Ups employ red 40, blue 1, yellow 5, and yellow 6 as their primary colors. Various animals, including dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits, pigs, and so on, have been subjected to these artificial coloring compounds. .

However, since it is known that artificial dyes can lead to allergic and mutagenic reactions and due to health concerns and to confer a better natural appeal to the products, manufacturers avoid the use of additives. The color and flavor of these products are provided by the fruits itself. Fruits are rich in bioactive compounds that have beneficial properties for human health and are related to fruit color, flavor, and aromatic characteristics. Phenolic compounds are the most investigated phytochemicals in fruit leathers. However, during the manufacturing and storage of fruit leather, the bioactive compounds may be degraded. The conditions of the drying process usually have a significant influence on the degradation of phenolic compounds (from 10.9 to 83.3%). Improvements of the production process of fruit roll-ups may result in better color and flavor preservation and dispense artificial dyes (1).

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Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is fruit roll-up vegan?” and discussed the vegan ingredients of fruit roll-ups.

References

  1. da Silva Simão, R., de Moraes, J.O., Carciofi, B.A.M. et al. Recent Advances in the Production of Fruit Leathers. Food Eng Rev, 2020, 12, 68–82.
  2. Eggleston, Gillian, Benjamin Legendre, and Mary An Godshall. Sugar and other sweeteners. Handbook of industrial chemistry and biotechnology. Springer, Cham, 2017. 933-978. 
  3. Awuchi, Chinaza Godswill, et al. Food Additives and food preservatives for domestic and industrial food applications. J Anim Health, 2020, 2, 1-16.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.