Are M&Ms celiac safe?

Quick Answer

The answer is yes, most M&Ms are considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to consume in moderation. M&Ms do not contain any wheat, barley, rye or gluten ingredients. However, they are made on shared equipment that processes gluten, so trace amounts may be present.

Are M&Ms Completely Gluten-Free?

No, M&Ms are not certified gluten-free. While the ingredients in M&Ms are gluten-free, they are produced on shared equipment that also processes wheat and gluten. This means trace amounts of gluten could make their way into M&Ms during manufacturing.

The equipment and facilities used to make M&Ms are shared with other Mars Wrigley confectionery products that do contain gluten. So there is a risk of cross-contamination. However, Mars Wrigley does have high standards when it comes to allergen controls.

Mars Wrigley states that their allergen controls follow regulatory and certification requirements. They have allergen management processes in place to handle foods made on shared lines. However, they do not claim their products are allergen-free or gluten-free.

Ingredients in M&Ms

The ingredients in standard M&Ms are gluten-free:

  • Milk Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavor)
  • Sugar
  • Coloring (includes Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2)

Other varieties like peanut, almond, crispy, dark chocolate, and other limited editions also do not contain any gluten ingredients. However, it’s important to still check labels for specialty flavors that may contain malt, wheat flour or other gluten grains.

Are M&Ms Gluten-Free Certified?

No, M&Ms are not certified gluten-free by any third-party certification organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

Products need to contain less than 10ppm of gluten in order to be certified gluten-free. Since M&Ms are made on shared facilities, Mars Wrigley cannot guarantee there is no cross-contamination below this level.

However, most experts consider foods with less than 20ppm of gluten to be safe for celiacs when consumed in moderation. M&Ms may fit into this category based on Mars’ allergen controls, but cannot be labeled gluten-free without third-party certification.

Third-Party Gluten-Free Certifications

Some common gluten-free certifications include:

  • Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO): Less than 10 ppm of gluten
  • National Celiac Association Recognition Seal: Less than 5 ppm of gluten
  • Gluten-Free Food Service (GIG): Less than 10 ppm of gluten

M&Ms do not carry any of these certifications. Mars Wrigley has not sought third-party testing and verification to certify their products as gluten-free.

Are M&Ms Labeled as Gluten-Free?

No, M&Ms do not make a “gluten-free” claim on their packaging. Since the facilities are shared with wheat/gluten, Mars cannot label their standard M&Ms as 100% gluten-free.

However, Mars Wrigley does clearly state on their website and FAQs that M&Ms do not contain wheat, barley, rye or gluten as ingredients. So they are formulated to be gluten-free, but there is a chance of cross-contact.

Gluten-Free Labeling Regulations

For a product to be labeled “gluten-free” in the United States, it must meet the following requirements according to the FDA:

  • Does not contain wheat, rye, barley or crossbreeds (e.g. triticale)
  • Does not contain ingredients derived from gluten-grains that have not been processed to remove gluten
  • No detectable gluten (limit is 20 ppm)

Since M&Ms are made in shared facilities, they do not meet the < 20 ppm gluten requirement to be legally labeled as gluten-free.

What Mars Wrigley Says About Gluten and M&Ms

Here are some key points from Mars Wrigley’s statements on M&Ms and gluten:

  • M&Ms do not contain wheat, barley, rye, oats or their derivatives as ingredients.
  • Gluten exposure is possible due to shared equipment, storage and handling.
  • Strict allergen management procedures are followed in facilities.
  • M&Ms cannot be guaranteed 100% gluten-free or wheat-free.
  • M&Ms are not recommended for those with wheat allergies or celiac disease.

So in summary, Mars Wrigley clearly states that consuming M&Ms carries some risk for those sensitive to gluten. Though they implement allergen controls, they do not consider M&Ms completely safe for celiacs.

Testing Results

Mars Wrigley does not provide any product testing results for the presence of gluten in M&Ms. However, some independent lab testing has detected low levels of gluten in certain colors of M&Ms:

  • Testing by the Gluten Free Watchdog found 2-5 ppm of gluten in yellow M&Ms.
  • Testing by the Nima Sensor detected 5-20 ppm of gluten in colors containing blue dye.

While more product testing would be needed to know average gluten levels, these results indicate there is definitely some degree of cross-contact with gluten. But the presence is likely to be under 20 ppm.

Are M&Ms Safe for Celiacs & Gluten Sensitivity?

According to most experts, M&Ms are generally considered safe in small amounts for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But the risk of gluten exposure still exists.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to eat M&Ms with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

  • Adverse reactions vary greatly among individuals.
  • Some show symptoms after ingesting just 10 mg per day of gluten.
  • Others can tolerate up to 50 mg per day with no issues.
  • Children tend to be more sensitive than adults.
  • People with celiac react more than those with gluten sensitivity.
  • The amount of M&Ms consumed matters.

So while most can likely tolerate a small serving of M&Ms, those who are highly gluten sensitive may want to avoid them or consume minimally.

Recommendations on M&Ms:

  • Celiac Disease Foundation considers them gluten-free to most celiacs.
  • University of Chicago recommends no more than 0.5 ounces per day.
  • Celiac Association says they are likely safe in moderation for most.
  • Gluten Intolerance Group advises those with celiac to avoid.

Overall, the consensus is that an occasional small serving of M&Ms is okay for most with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but they are too high risk for those who are highly sensitive.

Tips for Safely Consuming M&Ms

Here are some tips for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to help reduce the risk of consuming M&Ms:

  1. Check the label each time you buy a bag to ensure no gluten ingredients have been added.
  2. Avoid holiday/special editions which may contain wheat, malt or gluten derivatives.
  3. Limit your portions to no more than 0.5 to 1 ounce per day.
  4. Avoid colors containing blue dye, which testing showed may have higher gluten levels.
  5. Opt for plain M&Ms as opposed to varieties with fillings or inclusions which increase gluten risk.
  6. Consume M&Ms as an occasional treat, not a daily part of your diet.
  7. Watch closely for any symptoms and discontinue use if any occur.

Being extra careful, limiting intake and listening to your individual body are keys to minimizing any risks with M&Ms. And opt for clearly labeled gluten-free candy if you want to be 100% free of any uncertainties.

Are Other Mars Candy Products Gluten-Free?

In addition to uncertainty around M&Ms, many other Mars candy products have questionable gluten-free status:

  • Snickers – Not certified gluten-free. Contains wheat flour in the nougat.
  • Twix – Not certified gluten-free. Contains barley malt extract and wheat flour.
  • 3 Musketeers – May contain trace gluten from shared lines.
  • Milky Way – May contain trace gluten from shared lines.
  • Skittles – May contain trace gluten from shared lines.
  • Starburst – May contain trace gluten from shared lines.

So if you need to be 100% strict gluten-free, most Mars candies are risky due to gluten ingredient use and manufacturing cross-contact. M&Ms have the best chance of being tolerated, but could still contain traces.

Some Mars Gluten-Free Candy Options:

  • Dove Chocolates – some varieties like milk & dark chocolate
  • Skittles Wild Berry – explicitly labeled gluten-free
  • Starburst FaveREDs – explicitly labeled gluten-free

Check labels carefully even on these, as some product varieties may contain gluten. Other brands of candy like Jelly Belly and Smarties are safer gluten-free options.

Are Peanut M&Ms or Other Varieties Gluten-Free?

Due to shared manufacturing and the potential for cross-contact, no variety of M&Ms can be considered 100% gluten-free. However, some varieties may be safer than others.

Potentially “safer” M&M varieties include:

  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Pretzel M&Ms
  • Crispy M&Ms
  • Mega M&Ms
  • Dark chocolate M&Ms

These varieties have fewer additional ingredients, making gluten cross-contact less likely. Simpler varieties tend to be safer.

Higher risk M&M varieties include:

  • M&M’S Caramel
  • White chocolate M&Ms
  • Toffee nut M&Ms
  • Birthday cake M&Ms
  • Holiday flavors

These have more ingredients like wheat-derived caramel, fillings and extra inclusions that increase gluten risk. Avoid any limited batches with wheat flour listed.

In the end, all M&Ms regardless of variety have some degree of uncertainty around gluten content. Enjoy peanut M&Ms or other plain types in moderation, but know that none are guaranteed gluten-free.

Are There Any Gluten-Free M&Ms?

No, currently there are no M&Ms products that are certified gluten-free and labeled as such. Since Mars makes all varieties of M&Ms on shared lines, they cannot guarantee any are 100% gluten-free.

However, Mars has indicated interest in designing dedicated gluten-free manufacturing facilities in the future. So there is potential for truly gluten-free M&Ms down the road.

Mars currently labels some Skittles and Starburst products as gluten-free. These are made in facilities separate from other products. Expanding dedicated manufacturing for gluten-free confections is a possibility.

For now, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should play it safe and consider M&Ms as gluten-free. Verify ingredients and contact Mars with any questions if tolerating gluten is critical.

Some Definitively Gluten-Free Candy Options:

  • Skittles Wild Berry
  • Starburst FaveREDs
  • Jelly Belly jelly beans
  • Smarties candy rolls
  • Warheads hard candy
  • Lindt chocolate bars

There are plenty of other clearly labeled gluten-free candies to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings without the questions around gluten! Enjoy an occasional serving of M&Ms at your own risk.


In summary, M&Ms do not contain any gluten-based ingredients, but are produced on shared equipment with other products that contain wheat and gluten. This means M&Ms run a risk of gluten cross-contact.

They are not certified gluten-free or labeled as such. Traces at levels of 2-20 ppm have been detected through independent lab testing. But Mars Wrigley’s allergen controls likely keep averages in that range.

Most experts agree an occasional small serving of M&Ms is tolerable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But for the highly sensitive, avoiding them is safest. Limit portions to 1 ounce per day maximum if consuming.

No M&Ms variety can be considered 100% gluten-free. Check all labels carefully for specialty flavors. Opt for simpler varieties like peanut M&Ms in plain milk chocolate if including in your gluten-free diet.

While not as risky as many candies that openly contain gluten, M&Ms still pose some level of uncertainty. Enjoy them moderately if you can tolerate trace gluten, but know they are not certified gluten-free.

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