Saltine crackers, also known as soda crackers, are thin crackers made of flour, yeast, and baking soda. Typically square in shape, saltine crackers are popularly consumed as snacks. While others prefer saltines as is, some would add spreads such as cheese, butter, or peanut butter for flavor. It is also not uncommon for people to dip saltine crackers into sauces and dips.
As the way they are now, and always have been, saltine crackers are practically vegan. According to the ingredients listed in most saltine crackers available today, the ingredients used are almost always vegan. The only ingredient found in select saltine cracker brands that some vegans would rather avoid is sugar. Although it is only considered a gray area ingredient, plenty of saltine cracker brands without sugar are available for vegans as well.
Since there are different brands of saltine crackers available on the market, it can be surmised that different brands would have varying ingredients listed. As a representative sample, the ingredients of three different brands would be listed in this article. The brands used will come from the most popular as reported by Nutritionix (1). These include Premium Original Sea Salt Saltine Crackers from Nabisco, Saltine Crackers from Great Value, and Original Saltines Crackers from Kroger.
The list of ingredients of Nabisco Premium Original Sea Salt Saltine Crackers includes (2): unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1) riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid), soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, sea salt, salt, malted barley flour, baking soda, yeast.
The list of ingredients of Great Value Saltine Crackers includes (3): enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following vegetable oils: canola oil, corn oil, palm oil, soybean oil). Contains 2% or less of the following: salt, sodium bicarbonate, wheat gluten, malted barley flour, yeast.
The list of ingredients of Kroger Saltines Crackers includes (4): enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), soybean oil (TBHQ and citric acid [preservatives]), salt. Contains 2% or less of: sugar, leavening (baking soda, yeast), malted barley flour, sodium sulfite, enzymes.
Evident from three different brands of saltine crackers, the ingredients used in them are practically similar to one another with a few exceptions.
Looking at the ingredients lists above, most ingredients used in saltine crackers are practically vegan. With the primary ingredients in saltine crackers as flour, a leavening such as baking soda and/or yeast, and salt for taste, saltine crackers are made with all-vegan ingredients. Coupled with a vegan dip or spread, saltine crackers can be a delicious treat for those with vegan diets and lifestyles.
The only ingredient that some vegans might be turned off with is sugar. A commonly used sweetener in the food industry, it is considered by many vegans as a gray area ingredient due to the circumstances surrounding it. However, for those vegans who do avoid sugar, there are plenty of saltine cracker options that do not contain sugar.
Sugar is a common ingredient that can be found in many food and beverage products. Although primarily used as a sweetener, sugar can also be used as a preservative such as in jams and jellies. Although it is understandable to assume that sugar should be vegan due to its plant sources, sugar can actually be non-vegan depending on how it was produced.
After the sugarcane or sugar beets are milled, raw juice is obtained. However, it has to be processed with additional refinement methods to make sugar that is appealing to consumers (i.e., sugar that is whiter and finer). Plenty of methods are involved in the refinement process. However, vegans are wary of one process in particular: filtration.
Filtration is an important step in sugar refinement because it aims to remove debris, contaminants, and other non-sugar components. Thus, filtration increases the purity of the sugar. Different companies use different methods for filtration. However, the problem is that some companies 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 because it is an animal product.
The use of bone char in the sugar industry is a big issue for vegans because determining the necessary information is not so easy. Firstly, sugar companies do not typically inform the consumers how the products are made. It is especially difficult when sugar is used in other food products because then it becomes harder to find out since a large food manufacturer can potentially have multiple sources for sugar to meet its own demands. Thus, many vegans tend to avoid sugar altogether as a general precaution.
Since the use of bone char in the sugar industry is more prevalent in the US, vegans located around the world are less worried about having their sugar be produced with bone char.