The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Papa John’s: Dough Enzyme, Stearic Acid, and Cookie Ingredients Are Vegetarian

Posted on April 07, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

Recently a Papa John’s patron relayed to The Vegetarian Resource Group some
information she had received in an email response from Papa John’s about a
few of their ingredients in the pizza dough and the desserts. This brought up
questions concerning whether the items were vegetarian. In March 2014 we asked
the Research & Development Department at Papa John’s about these ingredients.

Here is the Papa John’s ingredient statement for the Original Dough:

Pizza Dough: unbleached enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley
flour, wheat starch, ascorbic acid, enzyme, niacin, iron as ferrous
sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar,
soybean oil, salt, yeast [fungal or bacterial derivatives – NO animal
derivatives]. No trans fat.

This is the prompt response we received by email from Papa John’s:

The enzyme in the unbleached enriched wheat flour (per the enzyme
supplier) contains neither animal components nor animal-derived
ingredients… There are no egg or milk products in our [Original] Dough

Papa John’s supplied more information regarding the “fungal- or
bacterial-derived” yeast used in the Original Dough:
The yeast supplier lists the yeast status as “acceptable for vegan
diets.” The supplier further states “No animal products used in the
manufacturing process for the yeast or the raw materials.”

Here are Papa John’s ingredients statements for their icing and
chocolate chip cookie:

Icing (White): sugar, water, corn syrup, stearic acid, artificial color
(titanium dioxide), agar, salt, potassium sorbate (preservative), guar
gum, pectin, dextrose, citric acid, sodium hexametaphosphate, natural
and artificial flavor. (NO animal products)

Chocolate Chip Cookie: chocolate chips (sugar, unsweetened chocolate,
cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin [an emulsifier], vanillin [an
artificial flavor], enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley
flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid),
margarine (palm oil, water, soybean oil, salt, whey solids, vegetable
mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, beta carotene
[color], vitamin A palmitate added), sugar, brown sugar, pasteurized
whole eggs, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate,
monocalcium phosphate), salt, artificial flavor, caramel color.

When The VRG asked Papa John’s to confirm that the stearic acid and
cookie ingredients were vegetarian because the ingredient statements
suggest that they are, we were told:

The stearic acid (per the icing supplier) has no animal products in it.
The stearic acid is kosher. In addition, the white drizzle icing has no
animal products in any of the ingredients and it is also kosher. There
is no egg, milk or honey in the icing.

Concerning the chocolate chip cookie served at Papa John’s, The VRG was

The cookie contains pasteurized whole eggs in the dough, as well as
white and brown sugar. It does not contain honey or milk. However, the
margarine used contains whey powder. The cookie dough supplier has
confirmed the cookie is acceptable for a vegetarian diet but not a vegan

Click here for our most recent update on Papa John’s.
For more information about Papa John’s, readers may visit
For more information on fast food and quick casual restaurant chains
visit: The VRG website.

The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications,
including The 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 employees or company statements. Information
does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best
judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research
or confirmation may be warranted.

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