Are Starburst Vegan?

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Starbursts are a popular, sweet candy treat, but are they suitable for vegan consumption?

In this article, we are going to be delving into the ingredients of the tasty candy to see if vegans are able to enjoy them.

Let’s get started. 

What Are Starburst?

Starburst are- as mentioned- sweet candies shaped like small, square boxes with different fruity flavors.

The main flavors of Starburst are cherry- the red ones-, lemon- the yellow ones-, strawberry- the pink ones-, and orange. You can guess what color those orange-flavored ones are! 

These were the staple flavors of the original Starburst, but there is now much more available in terms of variety, such as Sour Starburst, Tropical Starburst, and Superfruit Starburst to name a few. 

These candies were originally introduced in the United Kingdom more than sixty years ago, in 1960.

The UK versions also have two different original flavors, removing cherry in favor of lime and blackcurrant (although they do still have strawberry, lemon, and orange). 

Are Starburst Vegan?

The United States version of Starburst is not vegan, as they contain the animal byproduct that is gelatin. 

The United Kingdom version, however, has a greater chance of being vegan as it contains no gelatin. That being said, they do contain sugar, which is likely to be cane sugar.

Cane sugar is often not vegan (though not always) as bone char is a common ingredient used to process it. 

The UK Starburst does contain palm fat, but this is considered vegan friendly as well as being RSPO certified.

UK Starbursts are noted as being vegetarian friendly, but they aren’t explicitly stated as being vegan friendly too. 

Non-Vegan Friendly Starburst Ingredients

Confectioners Glaze

There is debate surrounding the origin of shellac, which is what confectioner’s glaze is made from. Many believe that shellac comes from the crushed shells of beetles, the female Lac beetle specifically. 

Others believe that this is not the case, and that shellac is instead made from anal secretions that are deposited onto tree branches by the Lac beetle. 

No matter which it is, shellac is certainly not a vegan product as it comes from an insect in one way or another. 


All of the Starburst products found in the United States contain gelatin, which is made up of animal collagen. Therefore, you can be certain that the US Starburst are certainly not animal friendly!

The UK Starburst use palm fat, various food thickeners and lecithin- made up of fatty acids- rather than gelatin. 

Vegan Friendly Starburst Ingredients

Palm Oil

As mentioned, palm oil is included within the palm fat that is found in the UK version of Starburst. 

Palm oil is an ingredient that has caused a great deal of controversy due to it being linked to deforestation and animal exploitation. 

However, the UK Starburst company have specifically stated that their palm fat is RSPO friendly. 

RSPO is an organization dedicated to creating only sustainable palm oil, making this an ingredient that can be considered vegan friendly. 

Uncertain Ingredients

Artificial Flavors

Starburst are known for their inclusion of real fruit juice, but some artificial flavors go into the candy too to enhance the fruit flavor.  

Certain artificial flavors can contain animal extracts, but the Starburst packet doesn’t specifically state if the flavors used in the candy features this. 


As mentioned, cane sugar can be a tricky one to pin down, as some brands use bone char to whiten the sugar itself. 

The Starburst packets only state that sugar is used, it doesn’t specify cane sugar. However, it is a safe bet to assume that cane sugar is used as it is ideal for candy making. 

Food Coloring

Food coloring is another difficult ingredient to pin down in terms of being vegan friendly due to the fact that it can be tested on animals. 

There is no mention of animal testing on the Starburst packets, though the makers do state that the candies feature natural colors based on vegetables, fruits and plants. 

Final Thoughts

Whilst the US Starburst is definitely not vegan, the UK version of Starburst is far more likely to be vegan. 

That being said, there are a few questionable ingredients that make it unclear as to whether the UK Starburst is entirely vegan. 

All in all, though, you can be sure that American Starbursts are not suitable for a vegan diet!

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