Watch Out! The Ultimately FULL List Of Non-Vegan Food Additives (Plus HOW To Know For Sure)

Once you become vegan, it is inevitable that you change your shopping habits too!

It may seem like a burdensome task, but would you prefer to keep living in oblivion and not care what goes into/onto your body?

Some time ago I posted a list of Priceless Vegan Shopping Tips, which can help you organize your shopping trips, but here is the full list of additives to avoid when buying products. Of course, the best option would be to opt for whole foods that have undergone as little processing as possible, but I understand that sometimes this is not possible. We need to buy other stuff from time to time, and it is essential we get educated on the things we need to watch out for!

Besides animal body parts, blood, pus, etc… there are a lot of chemicals, antibiotics, artificial ingredients etc… that few people truly know what they actually are.

Below is a long list of items found in foods and other products that can contain animal parts.

Several of them have a vegan alternative but unless absolutely sure, most of these items and ingredients should be avoided.

Also check out: I Was Shocked To Discover These 8 Everyday Items Are NOT Vegan

This list is courtesy of my friends at Raise Your Brain.

Numbers with a * mean that the additive is definitely of animal origin.
All other numbers are sometimes and therefore possibly from animal origin.

E 120*: Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines Natural Red 4: colouring

Watch Out! The Ultimately FULL List Of Non-Vegan Food Additives (Plus HOW To Know For Sure)

A colouring that makes many foods red. Found in alcoholic drinks, fruit pie fillings, jams, many sweets and even cheeses. Cochineal is made from the female insect found on cacti called Dactylopius Coccus. She is boiled alive or left to “cook” alive through sun exposure. Cochineal is the result of crushing scales of the insect into a red powder.

E 153: Carbon Black, Vegetable Carbons: colouring

If the description on product packaging says “Vegetable Carbons”, then it is most likely free of animal derivatives. (but could be derived from GM crops!) If the additive is described as “Carbon Black”, it’s more likely to be derived from various parts of animals.

E 161g: Canthaxanthin (Natural Orange Colour Xanthophylls): colouring.

Be aware that although Canthaxanthin is usually derived from plant material, it can sometimes be made from fish and invertebrates with hard shells.

E 252: Potassium Nitrate (Saltpetre): Preservative




Saltpetre is usually assumed to be of natural origins but it can be artificially manufactured from waste animal matter. Potassium nitrate is often found in smoked type cheeses: so even if the cheese contains vegetable rennet and not animal rennet, it may contain potassium nitrate made from animal waste, so check with the cheese manufacturer to determine the source of the potassium nitrate.

E 270: Lactic Acid: Antioxidant

Watch Out! The Ultimately FULL List Of Non-Vegan Food Additives (Plus HOW To Know For Sure)

Can be obtained from whey so Vegans should determine the source of the ingredient by contacting manufacturers. Lactic Acid can be found in carbonated drinks, beer, dressings and various tinned products.

E 322: Lecithins: Emulsifier and Stabilizer




Some Lecithin contains egg yolks so not suitable for Vegans. Other main sources of Lecithin are from soya bean oil and is likely to be genetically modified (if sourced from countries such as the US) Lecithin can also be directly obtained from animal fat.

E 325: Sodium Lactate: Antioxidant

Sodium Lactate is the salt of Lactic Acid. (see E270 above)

E 326: Potassium Lactate: Antioxidant / Acidity Regulator

Another type of salt derived from Lactic Acid. (see E270 above)

E 327: Calcium Lactate: Antioxidant

Another type of salt derived from Lactic Acid. (see E270 above)

E 422: Glycerol (Humectant, Solvent, Sweet Glycerin): Sweetener

Watch Out! The Ultimately FULL List Of Non-Vegan Food Additives (Plus HOW To Know For Sure)

There is contention surrounding the origins of Glycerol. Through various industrial reselling practices, a majority of glycerine originates as a by-product of soap manufacturing. Many soaps are manufactured using animal fats. This indicates that even though glycerine occurs naturally in plants, what ends up in food and soap products mostly originates from animals.

E 430-E 436: Polyoxyethylene: Emulsifiers and Stabilisers

E numbers 430 to 436 are various types of polyoxyethlene:

E430 Polyoxyethylene (8) stearate (Emulsifier / Stabiliser)

E431 Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate (Emulsifier)

E432 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate (polysorbate 20 Emulsifier)

E433 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate (polysorbate 80 Emulsifier)

E434 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monopalmitate (polysorbate 40 Emulsifier)

E435 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate (polysorbate 60 Emulsifier)

E436 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan tristearate (polysorbate 65 Emulsifier)

These additives are very unlikely to originate from animals as they are normally derived from various types of fruit. It may still be worth checking with manufactures as to the exact origins of the ingredients which make up these Emulsifiers and stabilisers.

E 441 *: Gelatine: Emulsifier / Gelling Agent

Watch Out! The Ultimately FULL List Of Non-Vegan Food Additives (Plus HOW To Know For Sure)

Also see the 21 Comfort Munchies You Don’t Need To Give Up When You Go Vegan

You may not find this E number 441 on food ingredients listings anymore because instead of an additive, Gelatine has now been classed as food (made of animal skin and hoofs) in it’s own right. Remember, all types of gelatine are animal based and can be found in dairy products like yogurts, plus many types of confectionery, jellies and other sweets.

E 442: Ammonium phosphatides: Emulsifier

Amonium phosphatides can sometimes be made using Glycerol (see 422 above) Therefore the finished additive may contain animal fat.

E 470a: Sodium, potassium and calcium salts of fatty acids: Emulsifier / Anti-caking Agent

As 470 is derived from fatty acids, these may originate from animal sources.

E 470b: Magnesium Stearate: Emulsifier / Anti-caking Agent

This is another magnesium salt from fatty acids and like 470a, may originate from animal sources.

E 471: Mono- and Diglycerides of fatty acids (glyceryl monostearate, glyceryl distearate): Emulsifier

Because E471 is derived from Glycerine (Glycerol) (see E422 above), there may be a slim chance that E471 might contain animal fats.

E 472 a-f: E472 A to F are emulsifiers related to the mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids family:

E472a Acetic acid esters

E472b Lactic acid esters

E472c Citric acid esters

E472d Tartaric acid esters

E472e Mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters

E472f Mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters

Because the E472 family is derived from Glycerine (Glycerol) (see E422 above), there may be a slim chance that any of these might contain animal fats.

E 473: Sucrose esters of fatty acids: Emulsifier

E473 is a sucrose ester of E471, being fatty acids, which may be derived from animals.

E 474: Sucroglyceride: Emulsifier

E474 is a glyceride of sucrose ester of E471, being fatty acids, which may be derived from animals.

E 475: Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids: Emulsifier

Being an ester of fatty acids which may be derived from animals.

E 476: Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate: Emulsifier

As this is produced from glycol esters the glycerol can be sourced from a by-product of animal fats in the manufacturing of soap.

E 477: Propane-1, 2-diol esters of fatty acids, propylene glycol esters of fatty acids: Emulsifier

The glycol esters of fatty acids can be sourced from a by-product of animal fats in the manufacturing of soap.

E 478: Lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propane-1: Emulsifier

See 477 above

E 479b: Thermally oxidized soya bean oil interacted with mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids: Emulsifier

See 471 above

E 481: Sodium Stearoyl-2-lactylate: Emulsifier

See 471 above and 270 (contains Lactic Acid and Stearic Acid)

E 482: Calcium Stearoyl-2-lactylate: Emulsifier

See 471 above and 270 (contains Lactic Acid and Stearic Acid)

E 483: Stearyl tartrate: Emulsifier

See 471 above

E 491: Sorbitan monostearate: Emulsifier and Stabilizer

From stearic acid and is used in dried yeast. Stearic acid is found in vegetable and animal fats, but commercial production is usually synthetic. See also 570

E 492: Sorbitan Tristearate:Emulsifier

See 491

E 493: Sorbitan Monolaurate: Emulsifier

See 491

E 494: Sorbitan Monooleate: Emulsifier

See 491

E 495: Sorbitan Monopalmitate: Emulsifier

See 491

E 542 *: Bone phosphate: Anti-caking agent

E 570: Stearic Acid Fatty Acid: Anti-caking agent

Stearic acid is found in vegetable and animal fats, but commercial production is usually synthetic. Often used in dried yeast.

E 572: Magnesium stearate, calcium stearate: Emulsifier and Anti-caking agent

See Stearic Acid 570

E 585: Ferrous lactate: Colouring

A lactate is a compound formed when a mineral is bound to lactic acid. This is why additives named as a lactate may have been derived from an animal source such as whey. (see 270)

E 631 *: Disodium inosinate: Flavour enhancer

Almost always made from animals and fish

E 635 *: Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides: Flavour enhancer

Often made from animals

E 640: Glycine and its sodium salt: Flavour enhancer

Can sometimes be prepared from gelatine.

E 901: Beeswax: white and yellow: Glazing Agent

Not suitable for Vegans.

E 904: Shellac: Glazing Agent

Shellac is a resin secreted by an insect called the lac bug Laccifer lacca Kerr (Coccidae) . It is often unclear as to whether the insect is killed in the process of commercially obtaining shellac as the resin is left by the insect on various plants. Whether this resin is harvested as a residue or extracted by directly killing the insects needs further investigation.

E 910: L-cysteine: Improving agent

Produced commercially from animal and human hair (and feathers). When produced from animal hair it is almost certain that all L-cysteine is taken from slaughtered animals. When human hair is used it is often sourced from women in third-world countries. L-cysteine is used as an additive in around 5% of bread and other bakery products. It is not used in wholemeal bread or other wholemeal bakery products.

E 920: L-cysteine hydrochloride: Improving agent

Produced from L-cystine (see 910 above)

E 921: L-cysteine hydrochloride monohydrate: Improving agent

Produced from L-cystine (see 910 above)

E 966: Lactitol: Sweetener

Derived from Lactose, commercially prepared using whey, so unsuitable for vegans.

Source