Gardetto’s is a popular snack mix that consists of crunch breadsticks, pretzels, and rye chips. Gardetto’s is owned by the multinational food manufacturer General Mills, the same company that owns several North American food brands such as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and several more. Gardetto’s is supposedly made with an authentic family recipe, a recipe acquired by General Mills from the Gardetto family back in 1999.
Although not explicitly mentioned in the packaging, the original Gardetto’s is likely not vegan since it contains Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce traditionally contains ingredients such as anchovies or fish sauce. Aside from Worcestershire sauce, Gardetto’s also contains other ingredients that some vegans are not too comfortable with such as sugar and natural flavors. These are substances that are difficult to verify if they are truly vegan or not. Additionally, other flavors of Gardetto’s contain dairy products, namely the Deli-Style Mustard, Italian Cheese Blend, and Chipotle Cheddar.
Gardetto’s come from a long history of being made of leftover pieces of bread that were seasoned with spices and sold separately. Unfortunately, it is difficult to suggest that Gardetto’s is vegan since the original recipe contains Worcestershire sauce. This liquid condiment is used as a seasoning that helps give the snack mix its flavor. Unfortunately, Worcestershire sauce is traditionally made with anchovies or fish sauce. Since the company does not claim the product is vegan, it would be safer to assume that the product is not vegan at all.
The flavors that contain Worcestershire sauce include the Original Recipe, Garlic Rye, Deli-Style Mustard, and Reduced Fat.
The other flavors of Gardetto’s are certainly not vegan as well. Although the other flavors do not contain Worcestershire sauce anymore, the remaining flavors do contain dairy products. Particularly, they contain dairy products such as dried Romano cheese, milk, buttermilk, whey, nonfat dry milk, milk powder, cheddar cheese, and so on.
The flavors that contain dairy products include the Italian Recipe, Italian Cheese Blend, and Chipotle Cheddar.
Additionally, all the flavors of Gardetto’s contain substances that are often considered gray area ingredients because of the uncertainty surrounding them. These are ingredients that some vegans are fine with while some vegans are not. These gray area ingredients include sugar and natural flavors.
The list of ingredients of the original Gardetto’s includes (1): enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola oil), rye flour. Contains 2% or less of: salt, yeast, sugar, monosodium glutamate, corn syrup, maltodextrin, dried Worcestershire sauce (vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spice, tamarind, natural flavor), baking soda, barley malt extract, caramel color, onion powder, garlic powder, fumaric acid, spice, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium diacetate. Freshness preserved by BHT.
Gardetto’s also comes in different flavors that should contain different sets of ingredients. Different flavors listed on the General Mills website include (2): Garlic Rye, Italian Recipe, Deli-Style Mustard, Italian Cheese Blend, Reduced Fat, and Chipotle Cheddar.
This article will look at the ingredients of the flavors listed above and discuss which ones are non-vegan and which ones are considered gray area ingredients.
Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment that originates from the city of Worcester, England in the early 19th century. It is a commonly used condiment for its umami flavor and typically used as a condiment for steaks, hamburgers, and other meats (3).
There are different ingredients that compose Worcestershire sauce, but the condiment traditionally contains anchovies or fish sauce. Although there are some versions of the sauce that do not contain these animal products, there is no way of knowing if the Worcestershire sauce used in Gardetto’s is truly vegan or not. Since the inclusion of anchovies or fish sauce is common for Worcestershire sauce, it is probably safe to say that Gardetto’s is not vegan.
The Gardetto’s flavors that contain Worcestershire sauce include the Original Recipe, Garlic Rye, Deli-Style Mustard, and Reduced Fat.
Dairy is the term used for milk and other products that use milk as the primary prerequisite such as cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and so on. Typically obtained from mammals such as cows, sheep, or goats, milk and other dairy products cannot be considered vegan. Thus, Gardetto’s flavors that contain dairy cannot be considered vegan.
Milk and dairy are considered to be highly unethical according to the vegan community due to the treatment of the cows (4). Cows are impregnated on purpose to induce their lactation or milk production. Once the calves are born, the offspring are then separated from the mothers to maximize the milk that can be collected.
The Gardetto’s flavors that contain dairy products include the Italian Recipe, Italian Cheese Blend, and Chipotle Cheddar.
Sugar is a common additive in the food and beverage industries and is typically used as a sweetener. Although sugar is conventionally extracted from plant sources such as sugarcanes or sugar beets, sugar can still potentially become non-vegan depending on how it was produced.
After the sugar has been extracted from a certain plant source, it is already in a form that is fit for human consumption. However, sugar companies would often subject the sugar to further refinement processes to make it more appealing to the consumers. These further refinement processes make the sugar whiter and finer. There are different methods involved in further refinement, but the issue vegans have with sugar refinement surrounds filtration.
Filtration is an important process in sugar refinement as it helps increase the purity of the sugar by removing non-sugar particles when the sugar juice is passed through a filter. Different companies would employ different filtration methods such as the use of granulated carbon. However, some sugar companies would use bone char – the charred skeletal remains of animals (5). Although bone char is a cheap and effective filter, sugar produced using bone char cannot be considered vegan since it is an animal product.
While avoiding animal products is one of the main tenets of veganism, it is difficult to do so when the information is difficult to acquire since the methods used to process a product are not usually listed in the packaging. Furthermore, the problem is further exacerbated when sugar is found in a food product or beverage because the manufacturer can possibly have multiple sources of sugar. This makes it even more difficult to determine if the sugar used in a product is truly vegan or not. Thus, many vegans would rather avoid sugar at the end of the day to stay on the safe side.
Natural flavors are a common food additive that can be found in many food products and beverages. Unlike other ingredients that serve other functional roles towards the product’s quality, natural flavors primarily act as a flavoring agent. According to the definitions provided by the FDA, natural flavors are supposed to be made of natural substances. In contrast, artificial flavors are made of synthetic products. Although the constituents of natural flavors are from nature, the problem vegans have with the ingredient is the scope of its definition. Specifically, the FDA defines natural flavors as (6):
The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.FDA.gov
As mentioned above, natural flavors can be composed of anything as long as the ingredients are made from natural substances. However, the problem is that natural flavors become an umbrella term that hides the nature of its contents. Seeing the ingredient listed in a product label does not effectively inform a vegan since the definition of natural flavors encompasses both plant- and animal-derived products. Thus, many vegans considered natural flavors as a gray area ingredient due to the uncertainty.
Featured Image Credit General Mills
Image Credit Famartin Shared under CC BY-SA 4.0