Is Lilt vegan or vegetarian?

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Lilt is a sparkling pineapple and grapefruit-flavoured soft drink which is made by The Coca-Cola Company. With the slogan ‘totally tropical taste’ and promises of ‘real fruit juice’, many people are shocked to learn that Lilt also contains animal products.

Whilst Lilt isn’t labelled as suitable for vegans or vegetarians, the label also doesn’t mention any animal ingredients. That’s not unusual for a soft drink.

So is Lilt vegan? Read on for the secrets of what Lilt is actually made from…

Is Lilt vegan?

According to the manufacturer, The Coca-Cola Company, Lilt is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it contains traces of fish gelatine.

Fish gelatine is a protein derived from collagen. It is extracted from the skin, scales and bones of fish by soaking them in acid, alkali or hot water and enzymes. As fish are animals, fish gelatine is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

Gelatine is added to Lilt as a stabiliser for the artificial yellow-orange colour, beta-carotene. The gelatine keeps the colour dissolved in the water, which prevents it from separating and forming an oily ring at the surface. It also prevents the beta-carotene from dissolving, which keeps its colour brighter for longer.

Lilt ingredients

The ingredients of Lilt are:

Carbonated Water, Fruit Juices from Concentrates 5% (Pineapple, Grapefruit), Sugar, Citric Acid, Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Aspartame, Sodium Saccharin), Flavourings, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabilisers (Acacia Gum, Guar Gum, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Glycerol Esters of Wood Rosin), Colour (Carotenes)

Why is gelatine not listed in the ingredients of Lilt?

According to the UK Food Labelling Regulations, gelatine does not need to be included in the labelling of soft drinks because it is a “substance other than water which is used as a solvent or carrier for an additive and is used in an amount that is no more than that which is strictly necessary for that purpose.”

In the case of Lilt, gelatine is used as a solvent for the beta-carotene colour and so does not need to be included in the ingredients by law.

Is Lilt vegan outside of the UK?

Lilt is only sold in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Gibraltar and the Seychelles. As far as I can tell from in-depth online research, gelatine is only used as a stabiliser for beta-carotene in the UK and not in other countries such as the US.

What other soft drinks are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians?

Soft drinks made by The Coca-Coca company which contain gelatine are:

  • Lilt
  • Lilt Zero
  • Kia-Ora Orange Squash No Added Sugar
  • Schweppes Orange Squash

In addition, two flavours of Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero, Sunshine and Multi V, are not suitable for vegans as they contain vitamin D which may be sourced from lanolin in sheep’s wool.

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The bottom line

I had been drinking Lilt for many years before I realised that it contains fish gelatine. After all, it’s common to assume that drinks are suitable for vegans if the label doesn’t state otherwise. But now I know the truth, I’ll be steering well clear of this fishy drink.

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