We all most probably can agree that sweet things are tantalizing to our delicate taste buds. Whether one is vegan or non-vegan, they would most probably agree. When we choose to be vegan we don’t lose our taste for sweet things and this is why we like sweet things like Twizzlers.
The question “Are Twizzlers Vegan?” has been in fluctuating yet constantly asked by vegans as depicted by this snippet from google trends below:
Are Twizzlers Vegan?
Overall Twizzlers can be considered vegan but diving into the nitty-gritty, I must say Twizzlers are not vegan. For eg. Sugar used in Twizzlers is not vegan because sugar production in America largely involves using bone char. In some instances, coloring agents are tested on animals. There are also multiple environmental concerns, such as the use of Carnauba wax which can be harmful to wildlife.
I have provided a detailed analysis in the latter part of this article.
What are Twizzlers?
Twizzlers are one of the most widely known brands of candy bars in the United States. The brand usually sells candy in red and black. They can be found in a range of shapes and flavors with the most popular flavor being strawberry. Other flavors include Cherry Twists, Chocolate Twists, Pull ‘n’ Peel, among others.
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Twizzler Ingredients in General
- Artificial flavor
- Corn syrup
- Artificial colors
- Citric acid
- Soy lecithin
- Palm oil
- Potassium sorbate
- Wheat flour
Twizzler Flavors List By Type
- Cherry and Cola flavored Twizzlers (yellow #6, blue #1)
- Chocolate flavored Twizzlers (chocolate and cocoa)
- Black Licorice Twizzlers (black licorice extract, blue #1)
- Rainbow Flavored Twizzlers (glyceryl monostearate, blue #1, yellow #5, yellow #6)
- Sugar-free strawberry (maltitol syrup, acesulfame potassium)
- Pull-N-Peel twists (same as the original)
- Twizzlers: Filled bites (pectin, carnauba wax)
- Filled Twizzlers (modified potato starch, carrageenan)
- Twizzlers Twerpz (cellulose gel, sodium lactate, carrageenan, carnauba wax)
- Twizzlers Sour Mini twists (malic acid, modified potato starch)
- Fire Edition Twizzlers (cinnamon extract)
- Twizzlers Nibs and super nibs (same as the original)
- Twisted Summer Fusion (same as the original)
- Twizzlers: Soft bites (riboflavin, licorice extract, carnauba wax)
- Twizzlers: Bites (partially hydrogenated soybean oil)
- Twizzlers Sourz (tartaric acid, carnauba wax, acesulfame potassium)
- Twizzlers: Candy straws (niacin, carnauba wax)
Controversial Ingredients in Twizzlers
Here are the ingredients that will no doubt be obvious for Vegans to spot. Because this product is being made at the Hershey’s Company, they are first and foremost a company that produces chocolate.
Though they do make as many concessions to have a product that’s Kosher and Vegan-friendly, these ingredients are listed.
The Hershey’s Company is not specific about its sugar sources, however, “sugar” is listed as an ingredient on their website. It must be stated however before we make a judgment that they publicly state their definition of sugar as being any sucrose-based additive.
Animals can be harmed during the production of refined sugar. This is because sugar is processed using bone char. Apart from this, there are also valid environmental concerns.
There is a degradation of wildlife and pollution caused by heavy usage of agricultural chemicals when farming sugar cane. According to a study by Oxford in 2018 (find it here), consuming environmentally friendly foods will not only save land but solve the shortage of food.
Though Carnauba wax is considered vegan, in the sense that it contains non-animal ingredients, there is still a big debate on the environmental concerns it presents, such as deforestation which can affect the ecosystem.
The ingredient has also come under fire over child labor concerns and objectively if we hold big concerns on animal exploitation, human treatment should matter as much.
Whilst Twizzlers themselves have never been tested on animals, some flavors of Twizzlers include artificial colorants such as Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Blue #1. These are controversial because they are tested on animals.
Even in recent times, Red #40 dye has recently been tested. A case in point is retesting on food dyes done by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)in the period between 2009 and 2015.
There has still been continued and periodic assessment by researchers on animals to re-evaluate harmful effects of artificial colors many of them including Red #40.
In 2017 some tests were tested using cattle whilst others were done on rats in 2018. The tests may involve the injection of the animals with the flavors being researched, whilst others involve animals ingesting huge amounts of the dye. Ultimately the animals do not necessarily die from the poisoning but can be euthanized for further dissection and testing of organs.
Rodents, dogs, and cattle among others have been sacrificed to ensure that food is safe for humans.
Red 40 itself is an unnecessary component and is replaceable with other vegan options. The additive does not contain any animal ingredients but is simultaneously controversial because it’s not cruelty-free.
Palm oil can be non-vegan because vast tropical woodlands have been cleared for large monoculture oil palm plantations. As you may expect, this clearing destroys critical habitats for various animals including endangered species such as tigers, elephants, and rhinos.
Forest fires to quicken the clearing process not only destroy insects and micro-organisms in the soil but increase the carbon footprint of palm oil production because of greenhouse gas emissions. There is also soil erosion and water contamination in the process.
Palm oil thus is largely not vegan friendly because of its harm to the ecosystem.
The company that produces Twizzlers is however a member of Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization that has a focus on sustainable Palm Oil. This implies that palm oil used in Twizzlers is most probably vegan-friendly.
Citric acid is made from fruit and is vegan friendly. There is however a concern based on the fact that China is a large exporter of citric acid to the United States and their fruits are largely genetically modified. Now we cannot verify if the citric acid in Twizzlers is from genetically modified sources.
However, it is something worth investigating.
This is a sugar replacement. Though it is artificial it is vegan friendly. It is available in the sugar-free version of Twizzlers.
7.Modified Potato Starch
This ingredient is used to add more texture and thickness to the candy. The potato starch is modified through a scientific process and there is speculation that half the time it may be from potatoes that are GMO-grown.
8.Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Vitamin B3 is controversial as it can be derived from both animal and plant sources. Cow liver tends to produce an extremely higher portion of niacin where rice contains about a third of it. A lot of manufacturers of niacin find it more economic for their business interests to produce it from animal sources.
However, as we have discussed before it is not sustainable for the planet even economically. Vegan-free alternatives can bring an end to the global food crisis. So what is good for these companies is bad for everyone and the environment in the long term.
9.Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Soybeans are vegan-friendly if organic; however, there is always a fair chance of them being genetically modified. The lack of a Non-GMO label on the packaging leaves the issue to our imagination and assumptions.
Why would this be a problem?
If for any reason they are using soybean oil from GMOs, then the use of large sums of herbicide can have an effect on the soil and the biodiversity that comes with it. This of course has an adverse effect on ecosystems.
Hopefully, the soybean oil is from 100% vegan sources.
Twizzlers have various artificial flavors. This presents a challenge because it increases the probability of animals being used in the process. Though, there is no verifiable evidence that Twizzlers itself may be using animal extracts.
It is something to consider.
The problem here is that these are specifically artificial flavors and not natural flavors. As most artificial flavors are created using chemical combinations that mimic a fruit’s essence, it’s merely a reproduced mimic.
Certain flavors namely, strawberry, vanilla, and raspberry have sometimes been derived from Castoreum, an extract from Beavers. (See this Havard article)
Sweet things are tempting at times but the facts and the research of what goes into Twizzlers makes them indefensible from a vegan perspective. There is still a long way to go for most companies to be able to give us vegan friendly-products.
The current ecosystem, especially with ingredients may sometimes not be in the control of product makers. The fact that Twizzlers made an effort to be part of organizations such as RSPO is an indication that they are making strides in contributing to a sustainable future.
Our hope is that that energy will be maintained on all fronts.
That’s why it’s our job as consumers to vote for what we want to see by what we buy. Entrepreneurs ultimately follow the voice of the people.
For an expansion, this knowledge needs to be distributed far and wide and you can do so by sharing every single piece of content on this blog that resonates with you.