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Hidden animal ingredients – What you should know


© Fotolia | Anaumenko

With so many products on the market today, it’s no wonder we get confused about what we might be eating!

Pre-packed ready meals can be a lifesaver when we are busy or in a rush but when you look closely at their nutrition labels, they contain many ingredients with unfamiliar names. This can cause us some confusion when we want to know what we are eating! Unfortunately, several of them are not suitable for vegans, vegetarians or for those who want an animal-friendly diet and ingredients which are clearly traceable.

Many of these food items have a vegan alternative but if in doubt, avoid them. No matter which diet you follow, the easiest tip to follow is; the more natural the ingredients, the better it is for both us and the animals! If you cannot recognize an ingredient, it is best avoided.


FOUR PAWS has listed the names of the animal-derived ingredients most commonly found in food items which could help shed some light on what they mean.



What It Is

Where You Find It


The protein component of egg whites.

Processed foods.


Small, silver-colored fish.

Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing.

Carmine (carmine cochineal or carminic acid)

Red food-coloring made from ground-up insects. Note: not all food products that contain carmine are labeled as such. It is also known as ‘Natural Red 4’ or ‘added color’.

Bottled juices, colored pasta, some sweets, popsicles/ice lollies.

Casein (caseinate)

A milk protein.

Dairy products and some soy cheeses.


Protein from bones, cartilage, tendons, and animal skin.

Marshmallow, yogurt, frosted cereals, jellied desserts.


Gelatin from the air bladder of sturgeon and other freshwater fish.

Alcoholic beverages, some jellied desserts.

Lactic acid

An organic acid formed by bacteria acting on the milk sugar lactose.

Cheese, yogurt, pickles, olives, sauerkraut, candy, frozen
desserts, fruit preserves.


Fat from the abdomens of pigs.

Baked goods, re-fried beans.


Phospholipids from animal tissues, plants, and egg yolks.

Breakfast cereal, candy, chocolate, baked goods, margarine, vegetable oil sprays.


Deep-yellow food-coloring made from marigolds or egg yolks.

Commercial food-coloring.

Oleic acid (oleinic acid)

Animal tallow.

Synthetic butter, cheese, vegetable fats and oils, candy, ice cream, beverages, condiments.


Enzyme from pig stomachs.


Stearic acid (octadecanoic acid)

Tallow, other animal fats and oils.

Vanilla flavoring, baked goods, beverages, candy.


Hard white fat around kidneys and loins of animals.

Margarine, mincemeat, pastries.


Solid fat of sheep and cattle separated from the membranous tissues.



A by-product of the yogurt or cheese-making process.

Crackers, breads, cakes, processed foods.

© iStock | Azure-Dragon