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E Numbers

Animal products sometimes hide behind the following E numbers:

  • E120 - Never vegan
  • E322 - Usually vegan
  • E422 - Usually vegan
  • E471 - Usually vegan
  • E542 - Never vegan
  • E631 - Usually not vegan
  • E901 - Never vegan
  • E904 - Never vegan
  • E920 - Check for further information

E120 - Carmine, Cochineal, Crimson Lake, Natural Red

A pigment produced “by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution” (Wikipedia).

E322 - Lecithin

Sometimes derived from eggs, usually derived from soy. Double check for a “Suitable for vegans” label, or contact the manufacturer.

E422 - Glycerol, Glycerine, Glycerin

Most glycerol is derived from plant sources according to The Vegan Society but it’s safest to check the label for an indication that it is “Suitable for vegans” or contact the manufacturer.

E542 - Bone Phosphate, Anti-Caking Agent

Made from the bones of cattle and pigs, this is as you would expect, one to avoid.

E631 - Disodium Inosinate, “Natural Flavours”

Produced from either Meat, Fish, Tapioca Starch, or Microbial Fermentation. Check the label for vegan (or vegetarian as it is a meat product), or contact the manufacturer.

E901 - Beeswax

Always an animal product, avoid!

E904 - Shellac

Secretion of the female Lac bug from India and Thailand. Always an animal product, avoid.

E471 - Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Partial Glycerides

Produced from vegetable oils or animal fats. Check for a vegan label, or contact the manufacturer.

E920 - L-Cysteine, Cysteine

Amino acid derived from materials such as poultry feathers or hog hair Wikipedia and sometimes synthetically produced in order to comply with Kosher or Halal. Check the label for suitable for vegans/vegetarians, Halal, Kosher, or check with the manufacturer.


Article Contributors

Sam Martin