Are Brach candy canes gluten-free?

With the holiday season fast approaching, many people are starting to think about festive treats like candy canes. For those with dietary restrictions like gluten intolerance or celiac disease, an important question arises: are popular candy canes like Brach’s gluten-free? In this comprehensive guide, we will investigate and answer the key questions around Brach candy canes and gluten.

The quick answer

The quick answer is: Yes, Brach’s candy canes are considered gluten-free. According to the manufacturer, Brach’s candy canes do not contain any wheat, barley, rye or their derivatives. Their candy canes are produced in a gluten-free environment and tested to fall below the FDA threshold of less than 20 parts per million for gluten.

What is gluten and why does it matter?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. It acts as a glue that helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a binding agent. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues or adverse reactions.

However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can cause serious health problems and reactions. Those with celiac disease have an autoimmune reaction when they consume gluten, which damages the small intestine. This can cause gastrointestinal distress, malabsorption of nutrients, and other complications. Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience issues like abdominal pain, fatigue and headaches when they eat gluten.

For those who need to follow a strictly gluten-free diet for medical reasons, knowing whether candy canes contain gluten is very important. Even small or trace amounts can trigger uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms. That’s why clearly understanding the gluten status of popular holiday treats like Brach’s candy canes is so useful.

Are all Brach candy canes gluten-free?

The answer is yes – all varieties of Brach brand candy canes are considered gluten-free, as per the manufacturer. On Brach’s website, they explicitly state that all of their candy canes are gluten-free.

Brach’s makes several different types of candy canes including:

  • Original peppermint candy canes
  • Assorted fruit flavored candy canes like cherry, watermelon and grape
  • Rainbow colored candy canes
  • Sugar free peppermint candy canes

No matter what the flavors, colors or shapes, Brach’s confirms that all their candy cane products are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. They are all produced in facilities and on equipment that minimize any possible cross-contamination with gluten as well.

Why are Brach’s candy canes gluten-free?

Brach’s candy canes are gluten-free because they do not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, barley, rye or related grains that contain the protein gluten.

According to Brach’s, their candy canes have a simple ingredient list including:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Natural peppermint oil or natural flavors
  • Artificial colors (for colored candy canes)
  • Carnauba wax

None of these ingredients contain gluten. The sugar and corn syrup provide sweetness. Peppermint oil gives traditional candy canes their distinctive minty flavor and cooling sensation. For fruit flavored candy canes, natural fruit flavors are used instead.

The carnauba wax is derived from palm leaves and helps give candy canes their signature hard, shiny finish. The artificial colors provide vibrant colors in candy canes like green, blue, purple and red.

So while candy canes do contain sugar, corn syrup and artificial colors, they are devoid of any ingredients containing gluten or made from gluten-containing grains. This makes them a gluten-free friendly treat for the holidays.

How are Brach’s candy canes manufactured safely?

In addition to not actively containing gluten ingredients, Brach’s also ensures their candy canes are safe from cross-contamination through rigorous manufacturing processes and controls.

Here are some of the key ways Brach’s maintains gluten-free integrity during candy cane production:

  • Brach’s candy canes are produced on dedicated equipment that is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between production runs
  • The facilities follow allergen control plans to prevent cross-contamination
  • Employees follow stringent safety, sanitization and hygiene procedures
  • The finished candy canes are rigorously lab tested to verify they fall below the FDA gluten threshold of 20 parts per million

By following complete quality assurance procedures from raw ingredients through packaging, Brach’s is able to avoid any gluten cross-contamination and deliver candy canes that are safe for gluten-free diets.

Third party certification

In addition to Brach’s own stringent procedures, the gluten-free status of their candy canes is also verified through third party certification.

Brach’s candy canes are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), an organization that independently tests products and manufacturing facilities for gluten safety.

Products certified by GIG must contain less than 10 mg/kg of gluten (10 parts per million) based on the organization’s testing protocols. This provides added assurance beyond Brach’s own procedures that their candy canes truly are free of gluten and safe for consumption by people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

What about other brands of candy canes?

While this article has focused specifically on Brach’s candy canes, you may be wondering about other popular candy cane brands and whether they are also gluten-free.

The gluten status can vary by brand based on manufacturing practices and ingredient sourcing. Some other considerations for popular candy cane brands include:

Spangler Candy Canes

  • Spangler states their candy canes are gluten-free to FDA standards
  • They are made in a dedicated facility to prevent cross-contamination
  • Spangler candy canes are Non-GMO verified and OU Kosher certified

Neilson Candy Canes

  • Neilson indicates their standard candy canes are gluten-free
  • They advise individuals to call for information regarding seasonal candy canes
  • Their candy canes are made on shared equipment that processes wheat

Quinn Candy Canes

  • Quinn states their traditional red and white striped candy canes are gluten-free
  • Their packaging does warn about possible cross-contamination
  • Quinn candy canes are certified Kosher

As you can see, practices vary among brands when it comes to potential gluten exposure. Your safest option is always to look for explicitly labeled gluten-free candy canes or contact the manufacturer directly with any questions.

What about homemade candy canes?

In addition to commercially purchased candy canes, many people enjoy making candy canes at home. Are homemade candy canes safe on a gluten-free diet?

The answer is that it depends entirely on the recipe and ingredients used:

  • If the recipe contains wheat, barley, rye or malt – it will not be gluten-free
  • Recipes made with corn syrup, sugar and flavorings can be gluten-free
  • You need to thoroughly clean cooking tools and surfaces to prevent cross-contact

If a homemade candy cane recipe uses gluten-free ingredients and you follow good gluten-free practices in your kitchen, then the resulting candy canes should be fine for those avoiding gluten. However, there is always increased risk of cross-contamination in a shared home kitchen.

For maximal safety and peace of mind, stick with reputable gluten-free brands of candy canes that have strict manufacturing controls in place.

Are sugar-free candy canes gluten-free?

Many people choose sugar-free candy canes for health reasons or dietary restrictions. The good news is that most major brands indicate their sugar-free candy cane options are gluten-free and safe for gluten-free diets.

For example, Brach’s makes a line of sugar-free peppermint candy canes using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. According to Brach’s, these sugar-free options “are also gluten-free and made in a gluten-free environment.”

Other brands like Spangler and Quinn also label their sugar-free candy canes as gluten-free.

However, it is still advisable to check labels and contact manufacturers to confirm the gluten status of any specific sugar-free candy cane you are considering, as formulations can vary.

Some alternatives like xylitol candy canes would automatically be gluten-free since xylitol is a naturally derived sweetener. But with artificial sweeteners, you need to verify the other ingredients are also gluten-free.

Are there any gluten-related recalls of candy canes?

Given all the precautions major candy brands take, gluten related recalls of candy canes are very rare. However, there have been a few instances over the years:

Ricola candy canes – 2018

In 2018, some Ricola branded candy canes were recalled due to potential gluten contamination. The candies used wheat flour in the manufacturing process, but did not declare this on the packaging.

Dollar Tree candy canes – 2012

In 2012, Dollar Tree issued a recall for some of its candy canes after discovering some packages labeled gluten-free actually contained products with wheat and barley-based ingredients.

So while recalls are unusual, they highlight the importance of verifying ingredient lists and labels when purchasing candy canes, even if buying brands that are typically gluten-free.

How to enjoy Brach’s candy canes gluten-free

Here are some tips for safely enjoying Brach’s gluten-free candy canes if you follow a gluten-free diet:

  • Carefully read the ingredient list and look for a “gluten-free” label on the candy cane package
  • Check that seals on the candy cane packaging are intact
  • Avoid buying candy canes from bulk bins, as there is a higher risk of cross-contamination
  • Do not eat candy canes that have become crushed, cracked or broken, as they could have come into contact with gluten
  • Enjoy plain candy canes as-is, or use them to decorate cakes, cookies and other treats made from gluten-free ingredients

By following basic precautions, Brach’s candy canes can be enjoyed worry-free by kids and adults who need to follow gluten-free diets around the holidays.


Brach’s candy canes are a welcome gluten-free treat for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or any sort of gluten intolerance.

According to both the manufacturer and third party certification, all varieties of Brach’s candy canes are gluten-free and contain less than 20ppm of gluten.

Brach’s achieves this by using gluten-free ingredients and following stringent avoidance measures during manufacturing, packaging and testing. This prevents any cross-contamination with sources of gluten.

While occasional recalls highlight the need for caution when purchasing any candy canes, Brach’s remains committed to delivering gluten-free candy canes that are delicious and safe for all.

So when the holiday season rolls around, those following gluten-free diets can rest assured that these nostalgic striped candies are a worry-free indulgence they can enjoy. Brach’s candy canes can spread holiday cheer without risking adverse reactions.

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