The Vegetarian Society UK Soft Drinks and Gelatine
– from The Vegetarian Spring/Summer 1994
Gelatine is, quite literally, a sticky area for strict vegetarians. Yoghurt, mousses, sweets etc. are obvious prime suspects, as are commercial wines and beers, where its use in the fining process is widespread. More insidious however, because it is less well publicised, is the use of gelatine in the manufacture of soft drinks. Gelatine can be used to clarify fruit juices as well as added to the final product to stabilise beta-carotene, which is often used as a colouring agent.
The Vegetarian Society recently surveyed the UK’s major soft drinks producers in an attempt to establish which were suitable for vegetarians. All Schweppes soft drinks and fruit juices, (those include Sunkist, Gini and Kia-Ora as well as Schweppes own brand) were free of animal products, with the exception of some of the Kia-Ora range. Kia-Ora Orange Drink and Kia-Ora Orange and Pineapple Drink (regular and no added sugar versions) contained gelatine stabiliser, and gelatine was used in the processing of juices in Kia-Ora Mixed Fruit Drink and Kia-Ora Pear and Blackcurrant Drink.
Of the other companies who responded, Ben Shaws, Wells Soft Drinks, and Barrs all claimed their soft drinks were suitable for vegetarians. Fruit juices made by Del Monte, Suma and Princes (including Cima and Spartan brands) were also claimed to be suitable. Britvic stated that all their fruit juices were acceptable with the exception of canned apple juice. Tango Apple is believed to contain gelatin-clarified apple juice, while Tango Orange contains beta-carotene and gelatine.
The Director for the Research and Process Development Department at Borthwicks Flavours, suppliers of juice concentrates to other soft drinks manufacturers, thought it unlikely that most apple juice concentrate manufacturers could offer absolute assurance of gelatine not being used for clarification.
Given the difficulty in obtaining reliable information from companies, the best advice for avoiding gelatine in soft drinks is probably to steer clear of those listing beta-carotene and/or apple juice as ingredients.
The Vegetarian is published by The Vegetarian Society and is sent free of charge to all members.