Whether or not Hershey’s chocolate syrup contains gluten is an important question for those with celiac disease or who follow a gluten-free diet. This article will examine the ingredients in Hershey’s chocolate syrup and look at statements from the manufacturer to determine if their product contains gluten.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, gluten poses no health concerns. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can trigger a negative autoimmune response that damages the small intestine.
Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must follow a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, avoiding any food or ingredient that contains gluten. Even small amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can cause issues for those with celiac disease.
Hershey’s chocolate syrup ingredients
The main ingredients in Hershey’s chocolate syrup are:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Contains 2% or less of: Potassium sorbate, Salt, Mono and diglycerides, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 60, Vanillin.
At first glance, none of these ingredients stand out as an obvious source of gluten. High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and cocoa are naturally gluten-free. Sugar may come from gluten-containing grains, but highly refined sugar does not contain detectable levels of gluten that would cause issues.
Xanthan gum can sometimes be made from wheat, which would contain gluten. However, Hershey’s states that their xanthan gum is made from corn, not wheat, and is gluten-free.
Hershey’s statements on gluten
On their website, Hershey’s clearly states that their chocolate syrup is gluten-free:
“HERSHEY’S Syrup is gluten-free. HERSHEY’S Syrup does not contain wheat, barley, rye, oats, or their derivatives.”
They also provide the following note on their FAQ page:
“Hershey’s Syrups are gluten-free products.”
This plain language from the manufacturer states that Hershey’s chocolate syrup does not contain gluten or gluten-containing ingredients.
Testing for gluten in Hershey’s chocolate syrup
Beyond examining the ingredients and heeding manufacturer’s statements, independent testing provides further evidence that Hershey’s chocolate syrup is gluten-free.
ConsumerLab.com, an independent site that tests health products, tested Hershey’s chocolate syrup in 2011 and found it contained less than 5 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. Anything under 20 ppm is considered gluten-free. This rigorous third-party testing confirms the absence of gluten in Hershey’s syrup.
Is cocoa powder gluten-free?
Since chocolate syrup contains cocoa and cocoa powder, it’s worth examining if cocoa itself ever contains gluten:
- Pure cocoa powder is naturally gluten-free.
- Most major brands of unsweetened cocoa powder are gluten-free.
- However, some cocoa mixes with added flavorings or thickeners may contain gluten.
- Always check the label and contact the manufacturer if unsure.
So while pure cocoa is gluten-free, some cocoa powder products may contain added ingredients that include gluten. But this does not apply to Hershey’s syrup, as they state it only contains natural cocoa with no gluten-containing additives.
Is xanthan gum gluten-free?
Since Hershey’s chocolate syrup contains xanthan gum, it’s important to understand if this ingredient is a potential source of gluten:
- Xanthan gum acts as a thickening agent in many foods.
- Some xanthan gum is made from wheat, which would contain gluten.
- Other xanthan gum is made from corn or other non-gluten grains.
- Manufacturers should specify the source of their xanthan gum.
- Hershey’s states their xanthan gum is derived from corn, not wheat.
So while some xanthan gum contains gluten, Hershey’s explicitly uses a gluten-free source for their xanthan gum.
Risk of cross-contamination
Even if ingredients are gluten-free, cross-contamination during manufacturing can introduce small amounts of gluten. Hershey’s states that their facilities follow gluten-free protocols:
“Hershey has implemented a comprehensive program to address the needs of consumers who prefer to avoid wheat, barley, rye, oats, and their derivatives in the foods they eat. This includes specific manufacturing practices, ingredient sourcing, and allergen control procedures to address relevant foods produced for U.S. consumption in Hershey facilities.”
Their allergen control procedures minimize any risk of gluten cross-contamination during manufacturing. Independent gluten testing has also verified finished products contain less than 5 ppm of gluten.
Contacting Hershey’s about gluten
For additional confirmation about Hershey’s chocolate syrup and gluten, you can contact their consumer relations department:
The Hershey Company
Consumer Relations Dept
19 East Chocolate Avenue
Hershey, PA 17033
Hershey’s consumer representatives can verify that none of their chocolate syrup products contain any gluten sources and are safe for gluten-free diets.
Hershey’s chocolate syrup is gluten-free
- Hershey’s chocolate syrup contains no gluten-based ingredients.
- Hershey’s clearly states their syrups are gluten-free.
- Independent lab testing detects less than 5 ppm of gluten in Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
- Hershey’s follows strict protocols to avoid cross-contamination.
Based on these key facts, Hershey’s chocolate syrup can be considered gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet.
Other Hershey’s syrup flavors
Hershey’s makes several flavors of chocolate syrup beyond their classic chocolate. Are the other flavors gluten-free as well?
Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Flavored Syrup
Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate syrup has similar ingredients and is made on shared equipment as their original chocolate syrup. Hershey’s states this flavor is also gluten-free.
Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup
The main ingredients in Hershey’s Strawberry syrup are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, strawberries, natural and artificial flavors. Hershey’s states this strawberry flavor is gluten-free.
Hershey’s Caramel Flavored Syrup
Hershey’s Caramel syrup contains corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, milk, contains 2% or less of natural and artificial flavor, salt, caramel color, potassium sorbate, and polysorbate 60. Hershey’s states their caramel syrup is gluten-free.
In summary, Hershey’s confirms through consumer relations inquiries that all syrup flavors – including chocolate, special dark chocolate, strawberry, and caramel – are gluten-free products.
Other chocolate syrup brands
Beyond Hershey’s, some other popular chocolate syrup brands also make gluten-free products:
Nestle Chocolate Flavored Syrup
Nestle’s chocolate syrup contains no gluten-based ingredients. Nestle confirms their chocolate syrup is gluten-free through their consumer services department.
Smucker’s Chocolate Flavored Syrup
Smucker’s is made with cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. Smucker’s states their classic chocolate syrup is certified gluten-free through GFCO, an independent certification organization.
Torani Chocolate Syrup
Torani syrups are made with natural flavorings without high fructose corn syrup. According to Torani’s allergen information, all their chocolate syrups are gluten-free.
Most major chocolate syrup brands offer gluten-free products. But always double check labels and contact manufacturers for confirmation if needed.
Homemade chocolate syrup recipe
To control ingredients completely, you can also make homemade gluten-free chocolate syrup:
Gluten-Free Chocolate Syrup
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, water, and salt.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth and uniform.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 month.
This easy homemade chocolate syrup requires just a few ingredients and takes a few minutes to make on the stove. You can customize it to your taste preferences or dietary needs.
Other gluten-free chocolate sauce options
Beyond syrup, other gluten-free chocolate sauce options include:
- Magic Shell – Hardens when cooled to create a shell over ice cream. Certified gluten-free.
- Nutella – Chocolate-hazelnut spread. Label states produced in a gluten-free facility.
- Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce – Thick, luxurious sauce. Lab tested to contain less than 5 ppm gluten.
There are many gluten-free versions of chocolate syrups and sauces available from major brands.
Is corn syrup gluten-free?
Since Hershey’s chocolate syrup contains corn syrup, it’s helpful to understand if corn syrup ever contains gluten. The short answer is no – corn syrup is gluten-free:
- Corn syrup is made by processing cornstarch from corn.
- Corn does not contain gluten.
- Plain corn syrup contains no gluten sources.
- Some flavored corn syrups may contain ingredients that include gluten.
- Always check labels of flavored products or contact manufacturers.
So while plain corn syrup is gluten-free, flavored varieties could potentially contain barley malt, wheat, or other gluten sources. But Hershey’s classic chocolate syrup only contains plain corn syrup with no added questionable ingredients.
Is sugar gluten-free?
Sugar itself does not contain gluten. However, certain sources of sugar may introduce gluten:
- Refined white sugar is highly processed, removing gluten protein molecules.
- White sugar derived from sugar beets or sugarcane is gluten-free.
- Brown sugar may have barley added for color, introducing gluten.
- Some less refined sugars may have detectable gluten residues.
So while white sugar is generally considered gluten-free, brown sugar or products with brown sugar may be questionable. Once again, it comes down to checking with manufacturers.
Gluten testing tips
When evaluating if a product contains gluten, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Review the ingredient list for obvious gluten sources like wheat, barley, rye.
- Look for statements from the manufacturer regarding gluten.
- Contact the manufacturer directly if ingredient or processing questions remain.
- Look for independent lab testing for products certified gluten-free.
- When in doubt, steer clear to be on the safe side if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Careful label reading, transparency from manufacturers, and third-party testing provide definitive evidence to determine if products like Hershey’s chocolate syrup are gluten-free.
Gluten-free diet tips
Here are some helpful tips for following a gluten-free diet to manage celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:
- Eliminate obvious sources of gluten like bread, pasta, baked goods made with wheat flour.
- Learn hidden sources of gluten like soy sauce, salad dressings, broths.
- Find reliable gluten-free substitute products like gluten-free oats, pasta, cereal.
- Check labels carefully and call manufacturers with any questions.
- Look for certification programs like GFCO that test products.
- Join online support groups for advice on hidden gluten sources.
- Let restaurants know about dietary needs when eating out.
Following a strict gluten-free diet can be challenging but gets easier over time. Thankfully many products, like Hershey’s chocolate syrup, are already gluten-free.
In conclusion, after examining the ingredients, heeding manufacturer statements, and considering independent testing, Hershey’s chocolate syrup can confidently be considered gluten-free. Those with celiac disease or on a gluten-free diet can enjoy Hershey’s chocolate syrup without concern over gluten exposure. Just be sure to double check other flavored syrups from Hershey’s and other brands for gluten-containing ingredients. With so many gluten-free options for chocolate syrup and sauces available, you can still enjoy these sweet treats as part of a gluten-free lifestyle.