Are Halloween Skittles gluten free?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause adverse health effects. With Halloween coming up, parents of kids with gluten restrictions often wonder if popular Halloween candy – like Skittles – are safe to eat.

The Short Answer

Yes, Skittles are gluten free. According to Mars Wrigley, the company that makes Skittles, their regular Skittles products do not contain any gluten ingredients. However, there are some important caveats to be aware of when it comes to enjoying Halloween Skittles.

Ingredients in Regular Skittles

According to the Mars Wrigley nutritional information, the ingredients in regular Skittles candies are as follows:

Corn syrup
Hydrogenated palm kernel oil
Less than 2% – citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, colors (red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 2 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake, blue 1 lake), sodium citrate, carnauba wax

As you can see, none of the ingredients listed contain gluten. The main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, and citric acid. The remaining ingredients related to color, flavor, and texture also do not contain sources of gluten.

Checking Labels to Confirm Gluten Free Status

While Skittles do not contain any ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains, it is still advisable for those with celiac disease or sensitivities to check the label when purchasing. Mars Wrigley states that their manufacturing practices result in foods that are gluten free, however cross-contamination is still possible.

Look on the Skittles packaging for any allergy information stating that the candies are gluten free. You can typically find this in the fine print on the back of the pack. However, do be aware that sometimes the allergy information is only available on larger bulk packaging, not individual fun size packs. When in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer for confirmation on the gluten free status.

Beware of Modified Versions

While original Skittles are gluten free, be cautious of assumed gluten free status when it comes to modified versions. For example, during Halloween and other holidays, you may find special packs that include things like Caramel Apple Skittles. Always check the ingredients and allergy information rather than assuming these special releases will also be gluten free.

Additionally, in movie theaters, you may come across Skittles that have been coated in yogurt. These yogurt-coated Skittles will not be gluten free as they contain an additional ingredient derived from wheat or barley.

Risk of Cross-Contamination from Manufacturing

As mentioned earlier, Mars Wrigley states that their manufacturing practices result in foods that are gluten free. However, the facility and equipment used to make Skittles likely also manufactures other candies that do contain gluten. So while the brand doesn’t use any high gluten risk ingredients, cross-contamination can’t be 100% ruled out.

The celiac community seems split on how much of a risk this poses. Some err on the side of extreme caution and avoid Skittles and other Mars Wrigley products entirely. Others feel the risk of cross-contamination is low and enjoy Skittles in moderation. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice for each individual to evaluate their own level of risk comfort.

Quantity Consumed Matters

For celiacs highly sensitive even to trace amounts of gluten, the quantity of Skittles consumed may also be a factor. Consuming a few Skittle candies provides less overall exposure versus eating a whole mega-size bag. This may guide individual choices on allowable portion size.

Additionally, some research indicates that gelatin, an ingredient in Skittles outer shell, may have a protective effect and make trace gluten less likely to cause issues. However more research is still needed in this area.

Halloween Safety Tips

To make trick-or-treating as safe as possible for kids with celiac disease, here are some tips:

  • Carefully inspect candy packaging for any gluten information
  • Contact manufacturers directly if allergy information unclear
  • Watch out for warnings like “processed in a facility that also processes wheat products”
  • Only accept unopened candy packages
  • Wash hands before eating any candy

Being extra careful with label reading for Halloween candy is advised. Fun size packs may have different manufacturing runs than regular sizes. And as mentioned earlier, ingredient information is not always available on the fun size packs.

What About Other Halloween Candy?

Outside of Skittles, what other Halloween candy is gluten free and celiac safe? Here’s a quick rundown of other popular Halloween candies:

Candy Gluten Free Status
Snickers Yes
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Yes
M&Ms Yes, but higher risk of cross-contamination
Kit Kat No – contains wheat flour
Nestle Crunch No – contains barley malt
3 Musketeers Yes
Milky Way Yes

As you can see, some fan favorites like Snickers and Reese’s are celiac-safe. But candy with crispy rice or wafer cookie ingredients, like Kit Kat and Nestle Crunch, are not gluten-free due to those added glutenous ingredients.

Non-Candy Halloween Treat Alternatives

For kids who need to avoid all Halloween candy due to celiac disease, other food allergies, or diabetes concerns, there are some great non-candy alternatives for trick-or-treating. Here are a few ideas:

  • Stickers, temporary tattoos, coins
  • Mini playdough containers
  • Pencils, erasers, bookmarks
  • Bubbles, whistles, yo-yos
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Glow sticks, mini flashlights

Many kids get just as excited about these small non-candy treats! Some parents even put together little Halloween goodie bags with a selection of these fun items.

The Verdict on Skittles for Halloween

To recap, here’s the final verdict on enjoying Skittles for Halloween when you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity:

  • Skittles have no high-risk gluten ingredients
  • However, gluten cross-contamination in manufacturing is possible
  • Celiacs must weigh personal sensitivity when deciding to indulge
  • Be extra cautious with modified/flavored Skittle versions
  • Carefully inspect allergy info on Halloween fun size packs
  • Enjoy gluten free alternatives like Reese’s and Snickers as needed

While not 100% risk-free, Skittles can likely be enjoyed in moderation by most gluten-free kids. But as always, choose candies that make you feel comfortable and make Halloween a fun, safe night for celiac trick-or-treaters.

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