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Watch out: Animal ingredients are hidden here!

Milk, eggs, cheese or sausages: With many foods, you can tell immediately whether they are vegan or not. To expose the less obvious cases, many people take a look at the ingredient list to check for animal ingredients. You can find out why this is unfortunately not always effective and which supposedly vegan foods are often not even vegetarian in today's blog post.

Industrially processed foods usually contain lots of additives. These can, for example, extend the shelf life of a food and change its taste, color or consistency. For this reason, additives used must be stated in the list of ingredients. Either by listing the name of the additive or its E number. If animal ingredients are hidden behind such an E number, even die-hard vegans are at a loss.

Some animal ingredients and their E numbers
  • Real carmine: E 120
  • Bone phosphate: E 542
  • Lanolin: E 913
  • Gelatine: E 441
  • Beeswax: E 901
  • Shellac: E 904
  • Lactite: E 966
  • Lysozyme: E 1105

The complete list of additives permitted in Europe can be found in Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 d.

Another problem: Unfortunately, it is not clear whether many additives are vegan or non-vegan. For example, fatty acids, lactic acid (E 270), flavoring or lecithin (E 322) can be of animal or plant origin. To be sure, you often have to ask the manufacturer.

But it gets even more complicated. Substances that are used during processing and are no longer contained in the finished product are not even listed in the list of ingredients. They are called processing or technical additives. These include, for example, clarifying agents such as gelatine or fish bladders (isinglass). The food industry also uses them in the production of natural foods such as fruit juice or wine. Here too, one hundred percent certainty can only be obtained by asking the manufacturer.

The consumer protection organization Foodwatch repeatedly provides information about hidden animal ingredients and has long been calling for mandatory labelling of animal ingredients. The following examples show that hidden animal ingredients are more common than expected.


Gelatine is often used to clarify the juice. Gelatine also serves as a carrier for added flavors and vitamins, which is why it can be used in multivitamins for example, without having to be declared.

Nutritional supplements

Nutritional supplements may contain vitamins that can be obtained from animal raw materials. For example Vitamin D from lanolin or Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) from the milk component whey.

If you want to rule out the possibility of animals suffering for your food supplement, you can reach for our orthomolecular products (vitamins & minerals)



In addition to potatoes, many potato chips also contain flavoring from game or poultry. It is best to use products with the V-label.


To prevent bananas from ripening too quickly during the long transportation routes, the pesticide Chitosan can be used. This is made from chitin, which is extracted from the shells of insects and crustaceans. The pesticide may not be used in organic farming. If you buy organic bananas, you can therefore be sure that you are getting a vegan product.


For filtering the wine, clarifying agents such as fish bladders or gelatine can be used. These are only used in the manufacturing process and do not have to be declared. Therefore: Look out for the „vegan“ label or the V-label.


German beer is usually vegan. At least if it is brewed in accordance with the German Purity Law, which stipulates that only water, hops, malt and yeast are to be used. Foreign beers, on the other hand, may be filtered with clarifying agents of animal origin.

Baked goods

In the production of baked goods, amino acids L-cysteine (E 920) is often used as a flour treatment agent to make the dough easier to knead and process. L-cysteine can be obtained from feathers and bristles. Lard is also used in some bakeries. If you want to be sure, you should therefore ask the baker directly which products are vegan.


Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash