Is Kool-Aid Vegan?


Kool-Aid is one of the famous brands of drinks with the flavor of fruits. It comes both in powder and liquid forms.

It’s being used by people around the world for decades. They grew up drinking these things but they want to find out if it is safe to consume it as a vegan with a 100% plant-based diet. Parents of young kids also want to understand if vegan children can drink it safely or not.

Is it a vegan drink? Yes, Kool-Aid is completely vegan. Earlier, it was believed that such drinks are made with an animal protein called Gelatin. It is a totally baseless rumor. Most of the formulations contain a mixture of ingredients like simple sugars, Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin C, Citric acid, and artificial flavors&colors.

Here we will analyze the ingredients and find our the main reason why Kool-Aid is considered a vegan product.

Why Kool-Aid Is Vegan

Kool-Aid Contains Vegan-Friendly Colorants

We can also say that Kool-Aid contains food dyes that are derived in a synthetic manner or from Petroleum. Vegan people have a tendency to consume products that have only natural ingredients or non-GMO ingredients, but this can create a problem for vegans. Food dyes are a suitable example of such ingredients.

Food-colors are considered vegan when they are made synthetically or derived from petroleum. Mostly, these types of synthetic food dyes are not made from animal-derived ingredients.

Red 4 or Carmine is a non-vegan food color, a red pigment extracted from the beetles, which is different from Red 40. Kool-Aid in red color contains Red 40, derived from petroleum by-products. Red 40 can also be extracted from the red strawberries

e.g. Kool-Aid Tropical Punch flavor contains:

  • Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid
  • Salt, Modified Cornstarch
  • Artificial Color, Red 40, and Blue 1
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • BHA (as a Preservative)

Kool-Aid cherry drink mix contains:

  • Citric and Ascorbic Acids
  • Salt and Modified Cornstarch
  • Artificial Color, Blue 1, Red 40
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Artificial Flavor
  • BHT (Preservative)

Black cherry contains:

  • Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid
  • Salt, Maltodextrin
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Red 40, Blue 1
  • Artificial Flavor

The strawberry contains

  • Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid
  • Salt, Calcium Phosphate
  • Red 40
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor

Other flavors also contain a red color in the formulation, but it is 40 only. There are other colors Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1, which are always vegan. The first two are azo dyes, and thus petroleum-derived. Blue1is a synthetic color.

Kool-Aid Does Not Contain Gelatin

Another myth prevails that Kool-Aid may contain Gelatin.

For your information, Gelatin is non-vegan because it is a protein that is only found in the animal tissues. It is found in collagen which is a protein found in the skin of some animals.

Manufacturers boil the bones, skin, etc. till such time that the protein forms a yellow colored layer on the water. It sounds gross.

We are not sure where this rumor actually started.

We believe that it may have originated from the Jello-like dessert made by Kool-Aid that hit the market a few years back. I think it is still available in the market.

The Strawberry Kool-Aid dessert contains sugar, Gelatin, Adipic and Fumaric acids (for tartness), artificial flavors, Sodium Citrate, Disodium Phosphate, and Red 40.

Kool-Aid Contains Vegan-Friendly Additives

A highly processed food product like Kool-Aid doesn’t have the number of ingredients you would generally expect.

It is a good thing. The more the number of ingredients a product has, the higher will be the chances of a non-vegan ingredient in it.

If we talk about the additives, most of the Kool-Aid products only contain Citric and Ascorbic acids, Calcium Phosphate, and BHA.

Nowadays, Citric acid is made from the mold Aspergillus niger fed on glucose or molasses, corn steep liquor, hydrolyzed corn starch, etc.

Vitamin C is also known as Ascorbic acid, which is made by the industry by fermentation method, hence, it is vegan.

The full form of BHA is butylated Hydroxy Anisole. It’s made synthetically without any animal-related ingredients.

Finally, Calcium Phosphate is also considered vegan. Although it may be present in bones, it is generally sourced from the Phosphate rocks. And the VRG also considers it as a vegan-friendly ingredient.

Is Kool-Aid Liquid Vegan?

As mentioned earlier, Kool-Aid is mostly available in a powder mix form, but it also comes in a liquid formulation. Is the liquid variety also vegan-friendly?

The liquid Kool-Aid is a concentrated syrup that can be added to water, just like the powder.

Yes, Kool-Aid liquid variety is also vegan. Ingredients may vary by flavor, but most flavors are a mix of water, Citric acid, gum arabic (or acacia gum), Potassium Citrate, Potassium Sorbate, artificial flavor, Red 40, Blue 1, sweeteners (e.g. acesulfame K and sucralose), and sucrose acetate isobutyrate.

All these are vegan.

That’s all for the unbiased facts of Kool-Aid. Thanks for reading the article.

References

  1. Carmine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine
  2. Carminic Acid https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carminic_acid
  3. Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Food Dye Blues. Carol Potera. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Oct; 118(10): A428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/
  4. El Ali, Bassam M.; Bassam El Ali; Ali, Mohammad Farahat (2005). Handbook of industrial chemistry: organic chemicals. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-141037-3.
  5. Kool-Aid Cherry Liquid Drink Mix, Caffeine Free, 1.62 fl oz Bottle. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Kool-Aid-Cherry-Liquid-Drink-Mix-Caffeine-Free-1-62-fl-oz-Bottle/23598044

 

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