By Jeanne Yacoubou
An online reader recently asked The VRG if any Doritos products available in the United States were vegan. To find out, The VRG in August through October 2014 called Frito-Lay®, maker of Doritos. We spoke with different customer service representatives and nutrition specialists each time.
On the Frito-Lay website, there are several different lists of products suitable for people with special dietary needs: http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/for-special-dietary-needs.html. Among those of interest to vegetarians and vegans are lists of Frito-Lay products that do not contain milk, do not contain pork enzymes, or do contain eggs. There are two lists of products certified kosher by two different certifying agencies. There is no list of vegan products on the Frito-Lay site.
We asked Frito-Lay employees why a vegan list wasn’t available. A nutrition specialist told us that “since ‘vegan’ means different things to different people such a list would not be helpful..it could confuse people.” The specialist advised The VRG to develop its own list based on website ingredient information.
In looking over all of the lists and comparing them, The VRG concluded that there are four possible Doritos products that are vegan-eligible. These four are on the lists of products containing no milk nor pork enzymes and they are not on the list of products containing egg.
Our preliminary vegan list was as follows (Note: keep reading below!):
Doritos Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Salsa Verde Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips
The VRG called Doritos again about the ingredients in these products. We discovered that the Salsa Verde Flavored Tortilla Chips listed as containing “natural chicken flavor” is “from chicken.” Therefore, this is not a vegan item. http://www.fritolay.com/our-snacks/doritos-salsa-verde-chips.html
We also learned that the Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips (sold only in schools’ vending machines) and the Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips contain natural flavors that are not animal-derived. http://www.fritolay.com/our-snacks/doritos-spicy-sweet-chili-chips.html
A customer service representative at Frito-Lay told us that “none of the natural flavors in any Doritos product is animal-based.” A nutrition specialist confirmed this. However, she elaborated further by saying “if a natural flavor contained an animal ingredient it would be identified on the label.” (As we learned, the natural chicken flavor mentioned above is from chicken.)
Doritos employees told us that the sugar used in the Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips and the Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips “is either cane or beet sugar…it depends on our suppliers and availability.” We learned from the customer service representatives and nutritionists that “ingredient processing is not considered a part of ingredient information so we will not be able to tell customers if cow bone char was used.” All Doritos employees read to us from a prepared statement when we asked about the sugar in their products.
The VRG received confirmation from Frito-Lay of our tentative vegan listing for the Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips. The nutrition specialist told us that they are all-vegetable referring to the Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips as “vegan.” http://www.fritolay.com/our-snacks/doritos-toasted-corn.html
Vegetarians may wish to note that all Doritos products containing cheese or cheese flavorings “do contain animal enzymes” according to two nutrition specialists we spoke with on the phone. The VRG asked if Frito-Lay made such a general statement to avoid potential mislabeling issues as other manufacturers may do or if all cheese and cheese flavoring in Doritos actually contain animal enzymes. The reply we received was “This is true in all cases.” Beside pork enzymes, Frito-Lay provides no further information on which type of animal enzyme or which animal species is used.
All VRG readers may wish to know that Doritos Jacked™ Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored Tortilla Chips contain chicken fat, chicken powder, and chicken broth. http://www.fritolay.com/our-snacks/doritos-jacked-ranch-dipped-hot-wings.html
The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, sources of microingredients can be unknown, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.