Are Swedish Fish Vegan? A Fishy Treat or a Vegan No-Go?

Many generations have grown up with Swedish Fish, but are they a fishy treat or a vegan no-go? Let’s dive in a find out more about these iconic chews.

Swedish Fish are the popular chewy candy shaped like fish that hit the American market in the 1950s. The original owner of this famous candy was the Swedish company, Malaco, who produced one flavor of their fish-shaped candy, lingonberry, a berry grown exclusively in Europe. Many mistook the flavor as cherry.

Today, Cadburys Adams (owned by Mondelez) makes Swedish Fish for the American market in manufacturing plants based in Canada and Turkey. The swimming treats come in different flavors and sizes.

However, are Swedish Fish vegan? Swedish Fish are vegan because their ingredients meet vegan principles. However, for some vegans, it becomes more complicated. To better understand this, it’s best to take a closer look at the ingredients used for these little swimmers.

Do Swedish Fish Contain Gelatin?

The protein known as gelatin comes from an animal-based protein from pigs and cows. Therefore, it’s not vegan. The good news is that Swedish Fish contains no gelatin, unlike some other gummy candies.

Do Swedish Fish Contain Beeswax?

Beeswax provides a glossy coating and prevents sticky sweets from sticking together. Since it’s a product that comes from the honeycomb produced by bees, many vegans avoid it, just like they avoid honey.

Some Swedish Fish products include beeswax on their ingredient list, meaning they become non-vegan for some consumers. However, you will notice that not all varieties contain beeswax. Instead, the company uses carnauba wax, a vegan-approved alternative.

The candy manufactured in Canada has mainly carnauba wax, whereas Turkish candy has beeswax. However, you cannot assume that if you buy your candy in North America, it comes from Canada. Always double-check the packaging to ensure you get beeswax-free Swedish Fish.

Are Swedish Fish Free of Gluten?

Swedish Fish contains modified cornstarch, a gluten-free ingredient, making them gluten-free. However, the gummies are made in large factories producing several other products, meaning there’s a slight chance of cross-contamination.

What are the Other Ingredients in Swedish Fish?

As you can see, the sweets from the two major countries where Swedish Fish are manufactured can have different ingredients. From what we’ve seen so far, in Turkey, they use beeswax, a non-vegan ingredient, whereas in Canada, they use carnauba wax, a vegan-approved one.

What other differences can you expect:


Sugar remains a controversial ingredient for some vegans because of its refining process. Some refineries use animal bone char to achieve the white color of sugar. Some sources say that Swedish Fish manufacturer, Mondelez, uses vegan-friendly sugar.

Invert Sugar

A viscous syrup, invert sugar contains fructose and glucose mixed in heating. The method creates a versatile ingredient that’s particularly useful in the candy industry because it helps retain the required shape while preventing cracking.

Corn Syrup

Another ingredient in Swedish Fish is corn syrup, a sticky and sugary liquid made from corn. It’s a vegan ingredient that is much healthier to consume than high-fructose corn syrup, which Swedish Fish don’t contain.

Modified Corn Starch

Modified cornstarch has a similar use to cornstarch to thicken foods. In this modified form, it makes the thickening process faster.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a flavor enhancer usually added to candies to create their sour flavor. It also has preservative properties. The more tanginess required, the more citric acid is added. It comes from citrus fruits, meaning it’s a vegan-friendly product.

Fruit Flavors

Unfortunately, Swedish Fish don’t contain real fruit. However, their flavors come from natural and artificial sources, and their natural flavors are plant-based.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil helps to give these candy fish their external shimmer and prevents them from sticking together in the packaging.

Artificial Colors

The colors on the packaging include red 40, yellow 6, yellow 5, and blue 1. These are the same colors you would find in the supermarket for baking. These are artificial colors, so they are vegan. However, in Cruelty-Free Reviews, we read that red 40 and yellow 5 are tested on animals, creating a problem for some people in the vegan community.

Basic Ingredients of Swedish Fish

Here are the listed ingredients of two Swedish Fish varieties you may pick up in a vending machine or grocery store:

Regular Packaged Swedish Fish


  • Sugar
  •  Invert Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Citric Acid
  • White Mineral Oil
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Red 4
  • Carnauba Wax

As you can see from these ingredients, the regular packaging is vegan unless you take issue with the use of white and the coloring.

Peg Bag Packaging


  • Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Citric Acid
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  •  Natural and Artificial Flavor
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Red 40
  • Beeswax

The addition of beeswax means that this product does not meet the standards of some vegans.

Other Swedish Fish varieties available in U.S. stores include:

  • Original
  • Original Mini
  • Tails
  • Tropical Swedish Fish
  • Swedish Fish Mini (Assorted and Tropical)
  • Swedish Fish Crush Fruit Mix

Always check the packaging of your favorite Swedish Fish Variety to ensure your beloved candy meets your vegan ideals.

DIY Swedish Fish

A quick online search reveals several recipes for Swedish Fish candy. One of the advantages of making them yourself is that you can steer clear of artificial flavors and colorants if you prefer healthier candy, experimenting with various whole fruits. You can also reduce the sugar content.

You may struggle to recreate fishy shapes, but you can use a mold or cut them into squares.

Simple Recipe


·      1/2 cup cold water

·       1/4 cup cornstarch

·      1/3 cup sugar

·      3 tablespoons light corn syrup


1. Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.

2. Pour the cold water over the dry ingredients, stirring regularly to dissolve them.

3. Put the pan over low heat and slowly add in the corn syrup while stirring continuously until everything is incorporated and thickened enough to form a soft paste. You should see bubbles forming on the surface at this point.

4. Remove from heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes.

5. Grease a small baking sheet or silicone mold with oil, and spoon the paste onto it. Let it cool down for a further 10 minutes before transferring it to the fridge for 30 minutes so that it hardens completely.

6. Enjoy!

Final Take

Swedish Fish continues to remain one of America’s favorite gummy candies. According to the World of Vegan, Mondelez has consistently produced 7,000 metric tons of these little ocean candies annually since 2009. The authentic product always has the words “Swedish” on top of the Fish, even though it’s pretty hard to read. Unless you have a problem with sugar or beeswax, Swedish Fish is a vegan treat that you can enjoy when you feel like some candy.


Are Swedish Fish vegan?

The answer to this depends on which country they were manufactured in. In Turkey, they use beeswax, a non-vegan ingredient, whereas in Canada, they use carnauba wax, a vegan-approved one. Always check the packaging of your favorite Swedish Fish Variety to ensure your beloved candy meets your vegan ideals.

Can I make my own Swedish Fish?

Yes! You can easily find recipes online to make your own delicious and healthier version of the iconic treats. DIY Swedish Fish are great as you can avoid artificial flavors and colorants if you prefer healthier candy. You may struggle to recreate fishy shapes, though. However, you can use a mold or cut them into squares.

Are Swedish Fish gluten-free?

Swedish Fish are gluten-free, as none of their ingredients contain wheat or gluten-containing compounds. However, due to cross-contamination risks during manufacturing, it’s best to double-check with the manufacturer if you have a severe allergy.

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