Shop for Vegan Supplements

Shop for Vegan Supplements

Colored test tubes - Photo by Totojang iStock

Which E Numbers Are Vegan?

Last Updated on March 14, 2021

Some protein shakes, protein bars, and other packaged foodstuffs have lengthy ingredient lists. While It is often easy to spot the animal-derived ingredients, the e numbers can be confusing. Here is a complete listing to use as a guide so you can easily spot which e numbers are vegan.

What are E Numbers?

E numbers are a form of short-hand to identify food additives. They could be as innocent as E300 which is vitamin C, or as harmful as E621 which is MSG. So all e numbers are not created equal. Some are derived from animal products like E441 which is gelatin, while others are vegan like E460 which is plant fiber known as cellulose.

Keep in mind that just because an e number is vegan doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. For example, E509 which is calcium chloride is a vegan salt naturally found in limestone, but it’s highly toxic. When taken in adequate amounts it can lead to burns in the mouth, and stomach ulceration. Yet it’s used as a firming agent in jams to no ill effect.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even so-called vegan e numbers are often tested on animals.

Key to Vegan Status

Here is the key used to let you know which e numbers are vegan, which could be from either animal or plant sources, and which are from animal sources.

 Vegan e numbers — of plant, mineral or synthetic origin.
? Possibly animal-derived e numbers — please ask the supplier to use a vegan version.
x E numbers that are not vegan — made from animal products or animal byproducts.

Which E Numbers Are Vegan?

Here is a complete listing of e numbers. The ingredients ticked with a checkmark are vegan. It helps to have a guide you can keep handy for when you’re shopping, so bookmark this page for those e number emergencies.

The e numbers have been divided into groupings; however, not all e numbers have been classified correctly, but it is interesting to get a general idea of the layout of the listings and understand why they are used in the product and be able to suggest suitable vegan alternatives to the supplier.

Food Colorings — Yellows

E100 — Curcumin. Natural color from the turmeric plant. Yellow food colorant used in curry powders, cheeses and mustard

E101 — Riboflavin — Vitamin B2. Visit the A-Z Guide to find out more .

E101a — Riboflavin-5-Phosphate. A orange-red food coloring used in sweets, jams and baby food.

E102 — Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow 5.) Synthetic yellow azo dye used in processed foods like cereals, sweets, soft drinks and pastries.

E103 — Alkannin. A natural red/brown dye sourced from borage plants grown in the south of France. It is violet in an alkaline substance and dark red in an oily product. used in wines, pastries, and sweets.

E104 — Quinoline Yellow WS. Greenish yellow food coloring. Mostly used in food coatings and sauces.

E105 — Fast Yellow AB. Toxic, linked to asthma. This food coloring has been banned in Europe and U.S.

E106 — Riboflavin-5-Sodium Phosphate. A more soluble version of Vitamin B2.

E107 — Yellow 2G – synthetic yellow Azon dye. It’s banned in the U.S.

Food Colourings — Oranges

E110 — Sunset Yellow FCF (Orange Yellow S, FD&C Yellow 6). Derived from petroleum. It is used to make sweets, preserved fruits and sauces yellow; and combined with E123 (Amaranth) to color caramel and chocolates browner.

E111 — Orange GGN (Alpha-napthol). Azon dye forbidden to be used as a food additive.

Food Colourings — Reds

x E120 — Carmine Dye (Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4). Derived from Cochineal beetles. The beetles produce the acid as a defense against predators. The beetles are boiled in a sodium carbonate or ammonia solution to extract the coloring.

E121 — Citrus Red 2. Artificial orange dye used to color the skin of oranges, but only where the skin will be thrown away as it is not safe to eat.

E122 — Carmoisine (Azorubine). An azo dye listed in the E.U. as a colorant in dried fruit, alcoholic drinks and cheeses.

E123 — Amaranth (FD&C Red2). A red azo dye made from petroleum byproducts. Banned in the U.S.

E124 — Ponceau 4R (Brilliant Scarlet 4R). Even though it is also known as Cochineal Red A, it is not of animal origin — it is a synthetic food dye. Used in cheese, preserved fruit, sauces, meats, desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks.

E125 — Ponceau SX, Scarlet GN. A red azo dye. Banned as a food additive in the U.S.

E126 — Ponceau 6R. A red azo dye. A very common food additive.

E127 — Erythrosine (FD&C Red3). A cherry-pink dye. It is an organic compound made from coal tar. Used in sweets, cake decorating gels and on pistachio shells.

E128 — Red 2G. A synthetic red azo dye. Banned in many countries.

E129 — Allura Red AC (FD&C Red 40). A synthetic sodium salt. Used in dairy products, sweets and soft drinks.

Food Colourings — Blues and Violets

E130 — Indanthrene Blue RS. And organic dye. Banned in the U.S.

E131 — Patent Blue V. A sky-blue synthetic dye. Used in jelly desserts.

E132 — Indigo carmine (Indigotine, FD&C Blue 2). A blue (pH 11.4) or yellow (pH 13.0) organic salt. Used to color capsules.

E133 — Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1). A synthetic, organic compound. Used in supplements. (Find out how supplements are made.) and processed foods.

Food Colourings — Greens

E140 — Chlorophylls and Chlorophyllins. A semi-synthetic water-soluble salt derived from cyanobacteria, algae and green plants. Used in spirits and pastas.

E141 — Created by adding Copper to Chlorophylls or Chlorophyllins. More stable than E140.

E142 — Green S. Synthetic coloring derived from coal tar. Used in sweets, mint sauce and canned peas. Banned in the U.S.

E143 — Fast Green FCF (FD&C Green 3). Seldom used, but found in mint jelly, canned peas, desserts, and sauces. Thought to be toxic. Banned in the E.U.

Food Colourings — Browns and Blacks

E150a — Plain Caramel. Made from melting sugar. Used widely in many foodstuffs like chocolate, alcoholic beverages, chips, gravy, soft drinks, etc.

E150b

E150c

E150d

E151

E152

? E153 — Carbon black, Vegetable carbon

E154

E155

Food Colourings — Gold and Others

E160a

E160b

E160c

E160d

E160e

E160f

E161a

E161b

E161c

E161d

E161e

E161f

? E161 g — Canthaxanthin

? E161h — Zeaxanthin

? E161i — Citranaxanthin

? E161j — Astaxanthin

E162 — natural red/purple coloring, sourced from beetroots. Most often used in tomato products, jelly, ice cream, sauces and jam.

E163

E170

E171

E172

E173

E174

E175

E180

E181

Preservatives — Sorbates

E200

E201

E202

E203

Preservatives — Benzoates

E210

E211 — Sodium benzoate is synthetically produced from benzoic acid which is sourced from plants, or bacteria in the fermentation process. It is present as citric acid in jams,  acetic acid in vinegar, and carbonic acid in soft drinks.

E212

E213

E214

E215

E216

E217

E218

E219

Preservatives — Sulfites

E220

E221

E222

E223

E224

E225

E226

E227

E228

Preservatives — Phenols and Formates (Methanoates)

E230

E231

E232

E233

E234

E235

E236

E237

E238

E239

Preservatives — Nitrates

E240

E242

E249

E250

? E252 — Potassium nitrate (Saltpetre)

E251

Preservatives — Acetates (Ethanoates)

E260

E261

√ E262

E263

E264

Preservatives — Lactates

E270

Preservatives — Propionates (Propanoates)

E280

E281

E282

E283

E284

E285

Preservatives — Others

E290

E296

E297

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Ascorbates (Vitamin C)

E300

E301

E302

E303

E304

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

E306

E307

E309

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Gallates and Erythorbates

E310

E311

E312

E315

E316

E317

E318

E319

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Lactates

E320

E321

? E322 — Lecithin

? E325 — Sodium lactate

? E326 — Potassium lactate

? E327 — Calcium lactate

E329

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Citrates and Tartrates

E330

E331

E332

E333

E334

E335

E336

E337

E338

E339

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Phosphates

E340

E341

E343

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Malates and Adipates

E350

E351

E352

E353

E354

E355

E356

E357

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Succinates and Fumarates

E363

E365

E366

E367

Antioxidants and Acidity Regulators — Others

E370

E375

E380

E381

E385

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Alginates

E400

E401

E402

E403

E404

E405

E406 — Agar (Gelling Agent). Derived from boiling red algae. Used as a gelling agent in vegan soups, ice cream, cheeses and desserts. Buy Agar now.

E407

E407a

E408 — Bakers yeast Glycan. A natural polysaccharide produced from dried yeast cell wall (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae) grown on seaweed (Furcellaria fastigata). Most often used in ice cream, cheese spreads, and salad dressings

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Natural Gums

E410

E412

E413

E414

E415

E416

E417

E418

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Other Natural Agents

E420

E421

? E422 — Glycerol

E425

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Polyoxyethene Compounds

E430

E431

? E432 — Polyoxyethene (20) sorbitan monolaurate (polysorbate 20)

? E433 — Polyoxyethene (20) sorbitan monooleate (polysorbate 80)

? E434 — Polyoxyethene (20) sorbitan monopalmitate (polysorbate 40)

? E435 — Polyoxyethene (20) sorbitan monostearate (polysorbate 60)

? E436 — Polyoxyethene (20) sorbitan tristearate (polysorbate 65)

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Natural Emulsifiers

E440

x E441 — Gelatin

? E442 — Ammonium phosphatides

E444

E445

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Phosphates

E450 — Potassium and sodium di-phosphates. Produced synthetically from phosphoric acid and carbonates. Used in baking powder to leaven baked goods, in potato products to keep white color, and in cured meats to retain moisture.

E451

E452

√ E459

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Cellulose Compounds

E460

E461

E462

E463

E464

E465

E466

E468

E469

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Fatty Acids and Compounds

? E470a — Sodium, potassium and calcium salts of fatty acids

? E470b — Magnesium salts of fatty acids

? E471 — Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (glyceryl monostearate, glyceryl distearate)

? E472a — Acetic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E472b — Lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acid

? E472c — Citric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E472d — Tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E472e — Mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E472f — Mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E473 — Sucrose esters of fatty acids

? E474 — Sucroglycerides

? E475 — Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids

? E476 — Polyglycerol polyricinoleate

? E477 — Propane-1, 2-diol esters of fatty acids, propylene glycol esters of fatty acids

? E478 — Lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propane-1

? E479b — Thermally oxidized soya bean oil interacted with mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids

? E481 — Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate

? E482 — Calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate

? E483 — Stearyl tartrate

Thickening Agents, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers — Others

? E491 — Sorbitan monostearate

? E492 — Sorbitan tristearate

? E493 — Sorbitan monolaurate

? E494 — Sorbitan monooleate

? E495 — Sorbitan monopalmitate

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Mineral Acids

E500

E501

E503

E504

E507

E508

E509

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Chlorides and Sulfates

E510

E511

E512

E513

E517

E518

E519

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Sulfates and Hydroxides

E520

E521

E522

E523

E524

E525

E526

E528

E529

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Alkali Metal Compounds

E530

E535

E536

E538

E540

E541

x E542 — Edible Bone Phosphate (not aligned with its categorization)

E543

E544

E545

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Silicates

E550

E551

E552

E553b

E554

E555

E556

E558

E559

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Stearates and Gluconates

E570

E572

E574

E575

E576

E577

E578

E579

pH Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents — Others

? E585 — Ferrous lactate

Flavour Enhancers — Glutamates and Guanylates

E620

E621

E622

E623

E624

E625

E626

? E627 — Disodium guanylate, sodium guanylate

E628

E629

Flavour Enhancers — Inosinates

E630

? E631 — Disodium inosinate

E632

E633

E634

? E635 — Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides

E636

E637

Flavour Enhancers — Others

? E640 — Glycine and its sodium salt

Antibiotics

E700 – E799

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweeteners — Waxes

E900

x E901 — Beeswax, white and yellow

E902

E903

x E904 — Shellac – Resin from Lac Bug

E905

E905a

E905b

E905c

E906

E907

E908

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweetners — Synthetic Glazes

x E910 — L-cysteine

E912

x E913 — Lanolin, sheep wool grease

E914

E915

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweetners — Improving Agents

x E920 — L-cysteine

x E921 — L-cysteine

E922

E923

E924

E925

E926

E927

E297b

E928

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweetners — Packaging Gases

E930

E938

E939

E940

E941

E942

E943a

E943b

E944

E948

E949

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweeteners — Sweeteners

E950

E951

E952

E953

E954

E955

E957

E959

E965

x E966 — Lactitol

E967

Glazing Agents, Gases and Sweetners — Foaming Agents

E999

Additional Chemicals

E1103

E1105

E1106

E1107

E1108

E1109

E1110

E1111

E1112

E1113

E1114

E1115

E1116

E1117

E1118

E1119

E1120

E1121

E1122

E1123

E1124

E1125

E1126

E1127

E1128

E1129

E1130

E1131

E1132

E1133

E1134

E1135

E1136

E1137

E1138

E1139

E1140

E1141

E1142

E1143

E1144

E1145

E1146

E1147

E1148

E1149

E1150

E1151

E1152

E1153

E1154

E1155

E1156

E1157

E1158

E1159

E1160

E1161

E1162

E1163

E1164

E1165

E1166

E1167

E1168

E1169

E1170

E1171

E1172

E1173

E1174

E1175

E1176

E1177

E1178

E1179

E1180

E1181

E1182

E1183

E1184

E1185

E1186

E1187

E1188

E1189

E1190

E1191

E1192

E1193

E1194

E1195

E1196

E1197

E1198

E1199

E1200

E1201

E1202

E1400

E1401

E1402

E1403

E1404

E1410

E1412

E1413

E1414

E1420

E1421

E1422

E1430

E1440

E1441

E1442

E1450

E1451

E1505

E1510

E1518

E1520

Conclusion

As complicated as e numbers appear at first glance, it seems that most of them are vegan. This doesn’t mean they are healthy. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t tested on animals. If you want to be healthy and be sure of making cruelty-free choices then it’s better to choose a whole food, vegan diet with easy to understand lists of ingredients.

Take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Vegan Supplements to find out about important nutrients you may be missing from your diet.

Facebook Comments

Scroll to Top