Are Swedish Fish Vegan?

Cindy Wilson Thumb by Cindy Wilson
BS, Nutrition & Food Science

Sweets and candies are one of the most irresistible things that make us lose self-control no matter how many times we try to control cravings for them, but every time we see colored candy, all wisdom disappears in seconds! For a vegan, things can’t get out of hand before they know how a particular candy is made. Just think that all of a sudden you want to eat Swedish fish, but you can’t because the dilemma persists: is Swedish fish vegan?

For most of the vegan people out there, Swedish fish meets vegan standards, but in the end, it’s not always safe. It basically depends on how you define your vegan diet. In this article, I’m going to explain everything about Swedish fish in detail.

What Are Swedish Fish?

Swedish Fish Are Vegan

The Market U.S is filled with a fish-shaped candy called Swedish fish, which was first made by a Swedish candy maker around the 1950s. These are chewy candies that were initially red in color but are now available in bright colors with a variety of flavors, like lemon, lime, and orange.

How Swedish fish got their name?

Swedish fish was brought to the American market by a Swedish confectionery company called Malaco (via Mental Floss) in the 1950s. In fact, there are a couple of things that are clearly Swedish about these fish.

Non Vegan Swedish Fish

The first and foremost is the word “Swedish” itself. The second is that the fishing industry is a huge part of the Swedish economy and culture so it was only natural that the export of gummies out of the country would come in the form of a fish. After their introduction to the American market, the candies were very successful and within a decade they had established themselves as one of the most popular candies in the country. The brand is now owned by Mondelez International, which also produces Oreos.1

Swedish fish nutrition facts

Nutrition Facts For a Serving Size of 19 pieces (40g):

  • Calories 140
  • Total Fat 0g
  • Sodium 30mg 2%
  • Carbohydrates 36g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Glucose 29 g
  • Protein 0 g
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Vitamin A 0μg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Calcium 0mg 0%
  • Iron 0mg 0%

Are Swedish fish vegan?

Most of the Swedish fish are vegan, but there may be some variations that contain non-vegan ingredients. Among the ingredients present in the Swedish fish, sugar, natural and artificial colors are controversial ingredients as some vegans consider them to be animal-derived products.

Vegan Swedish Fish

Swedish Fish Vegan

Given that Swedish fish is a candy, like any other candy on the market, the main ingredients are usually the same. However, some additives give this candy its own distinctive flavor. The following list shows the ingredients that will be added to a vegan Swedish fish. So be sure to check the ingredient list at the backside of the pack before purchasing it.

  • Corn Syrup
  • Citric Acid
  • White Mineral Oil
  • Red 40
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Palm Kernel Oil

Non-Vegan Swedish Fish

If the following is the list you see on the back of your candy box, then you know that Swedish fish is not vegan and therefore you wouldn’t be wasting your money. So always check the ingredients!

  • Sugar and Invert Sugar 
  • Modified Food Starch 
  • Corn Syrup 
  • Beeswax
  • Natural Flavours and artificial flavors

The following list will help you in analyzing and making right decisions.

Sugar

The question of whether sugar is vegan has certain aspects that are often discussed in the vegan community. It is not that the sugar contains products of animal origin. The problem lies in the way sugar is processed.

Sugar Invert

Some refined sugars are filtered through animal bones, however, bone charcoal is often used to filter regular table sugar (and sometimes brown sugar) that is not specifically labeled as vegan or organic sugar.

According to USDA regulations, animal bones cannot be used to filter the sugar. It is processed without consulting the manufacturer, which is why some vegans prefer to buy organic sugar. However, since many vegans prefer to minimize the millions of things to worry about in terms of possibilities, not everyone avoids regular sugars. If you are new to veganism, it is best to simplify things as much as possible so they don’t become overwhelming.

Artificial food colors

Artificial food colors are also worthy of attention, not because of their content, but because of their use before they are put on the market.

Most artificial food colorings must be tested on animals before they can be sold in stores for human consumption. This is why as vegans we buy cruelty-free household cleaners, personal care products, and even cosmetics.

Sugar Corn Syrup Modified 1

Vegans often choose certified vegan food colorings when cooking and baking at home as artificial colors are difficult to use in packaged foods. Vegans make many decisions about what to eat during and what not to eat and it may be much larger as compared to an average person with American nutrition standards.

In the end, avoiding foods such as refined sugar and food coloring for animals currently does not help. It is not clear whether these products are still being tested, but the final decisions are always ours. 2

Beeswax

It is said that some Swedish fish contain beeswax. This is a problem for vegans who do not eat honey or other bee products. As can be seen from the ingredients listed earlier in this article, Swedish fish does not necessarily contain beeswax.

Many people in the United States reported that they found a mention of the beeswax in a Swedish fish when they read the label, but the truth is that most Swedish fish do not contain beeswax (well some Swedish fish do contain beeswax).

Most of the Swedish fish are made from carnauba wax, which acts as a glaze during the production process, giving the candy’s appearance a luster. It is also called Brazilian wax or palm wax. This product is obtained from Copernicus palm leaves, which are native to Brazil and are very localized in Brazil. It is completely vegan and used in all Swedish fish candies.

However, it has been found that there is branded packaging with beeswax as a mark. On the packaging, there is a hole at the top. This Swedish fish contains beeswax, which is obviously unhealthy and not suitable for vegans. 3

Palm oil and palm fat

Palm oil is 100% vegan. The only controversial part is that the extraction of oil is very harmful to the animal environment and is not safe for animals, so it will harm them. This is an opposition to vegans.4

Swedish fish do not contain gelatin and egg albumin

The two main animal ingredients by PETA are gelatin and egg white protein, and vegans have never used them. The famous Swedish fish does not contain any of these.

Gelatin

Basically, Gelatin is used to make the candy sticky but the Swedish fish producers use corn syrup instead of gelatin. The company also uses certain traditional methods and techniques to avoid the use of gelatin and provide its customers with the best products.

Swedish fish contains Red 40 instead of Red 4

For decades, food coloring has been a very important part of the food industry. They are often used to make food more attractive and enhance its visuals.

In the food industry, a very popular food coloring is red 4, which is obtained from certain beetle species. This makes the candy not vegan, and therefore very unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians as well.

Red 40 is a very suitable and similar alternative to Red 4. It is a vegan product because it is made from strawberries, but it can also be made from petrol.

Red 40 is used in Swedish fish, 100% of which are animal-free and vegan. 5

Swedish Fish Contains Blue 1 And Yellow 5 And Yellow 6

The food colors, yellow 5 and yellow 6 are very similar to that of red 40, and both are made of petroleum, so they are safe for animals.

Yellow 5 looks like a lemon, while yellow 6 looks like a sunset.

Earlier they were made with the help of Coal tar, but modern production has shifted to petroleum.

In addition, Blue 1 is a highly synthetic food coloring that is not only used in foods, but also in dietary supplements, medicines, and even cosmetics. Facts have proved that this chemical is made without harming any kind of animal species.

This makes it 100% vegan and friendly to animals.

Are Swedish fish gluten-free?

Swedish fish is 100% gluten-free. Gelatin is not used to make these candies. Instead, candy makers use corn syrup and other methods to give the candy a chewy, sticky texture.

Conclusion

To sum up, Swedish fish are delicious and sweet candies that have a very unique and appetizing taste. Most of the flavors of these candies are vegan. All you have to do is to keep an eye on the ingredient list to make sure you are not buying a non-vegan Swedish fish.

So this was all on this topic. I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this.

References

About Author

Cindy Wilson Thumb
BS, Nutrition & Food Science
Cindy Wilson

Hello, I am Cindy, and this a website where I inspect everything related to nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I have a BS in Nutrition and Food Science (Colorado State University) and have completed a dozen specialty courses related to nutrition, biochemistry, and food science. I am open to learning more, but foremost I would like to share all my knowledge with you.

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