Are Starbursts Vegan, And Do They Contain Gelatin?

Find out if vegans can eat Starbursts, and why some candy isn’t suitable for those on a plant-based diet


3 Minutes Read

A packet of vegan-friendly sweet Starburst Starbursts do contain animal ingredients in some parts of the world - Media Credit: Felix Choo / Alamy Stock Photo

Starbursts, formerly known as Opal Fruits, are an iconic sweet first launched in the UK in 1960. The box-shaped fruit-flavored candy was a staple of many of our childhoods, and new vegans may be wondering if their ingredients are suitable for those who don’t eat animal products.

It may come as a surprise to many that some candies aren’t suitable for vegan – or even vegetarian – diets. This is because they often contain gelatin, an ingredient made from the bones of cows or pigs. Sometimes sweets may also contain beeswax or non-vegan emulsifiers or flavorings. 

But can the same be said about Starbursts? Here’s everything you need to know about eating the sweets in the UK and USA.

A packet of vegan-friendly sweets Starbursts
Adobe Stock Starbursts were first introduced in Britain in 1960

Is Starburst vegan in the UK?

Great news for British Starburst fans – Starbursts are indeed vegan-friendly in the United Kingdom. 

The original sweets come in four flavors – strawberry, lemon & lime, orange, and blackcurrant – and none of these contain any animal products. 

It’s worth noting, however, that “palm fat” (otherwise known as palm oil) is listed as one of the ingredients. While palm oil isn’t directly derived from animals, it is heavily linked to deforestation and species extinction. Many vegans will, therefore, choose not to eat it. 

A packet of vegan-friendly sweets Starbursts
Adobe Stock Starbursts do contain animal ingredients in some parts of the world, so you should always check the label

Starbursts also contain lecithin. This is a fatty substance commonly used as an emulsifier in many foods, and can sometimes be derived from animal sources. Often, however, lecithin comes from plants, such as soybeans, and it’s thought that the Starburst lecithin is indeed plant-based. 

Starburst in the US

Starbursts were launched in the USA in 1967, and have since become hugely popular in the country. Unfortunately for American plant-based eaters, however, they feature gelatin in their ingredients. This means that they aren’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians. 

Other Starburst products

It’s worth noting that Starburst creates a number of other products in addition to its four original flavors. One of these, Starbust Jelly Beans, is available to buy in the UK. While they don’t contain gelatin, they do count beeswax, which is non-vegan, as an ingredient. The jelly beans are therefore suitable for vegetarians, but not plant-based eaters.

Other Starburst products include Gummies and Airs (which contain gelatin). Starburst Minis, however, do not contain the ingredient in the US, and appear to be vegan.

You should always check with the manufacturer if you’re not sure.

What is gelatin?

Find out more about the ingredient in our explainer video below:

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