Is there dairy in Starburst candy?

Starburst candy is a popular soft taffy candy that comes in a variety of fruit flavors like cherry, lemon, orange, and strawberry. With its chewy texture and colorful, wrapped pieces, Starburst has been a favorite candy for both kids and adults since it was first introduced in the 1960s.

But one question that often comes up is: Does Starburst contain dairy? Whether you have an allergy, dietary restriction, or are just curious about what’s in the candy you’re eating, it’s worth looking into the ingredients behind this fruity, chewy treat.

The Short Answer

No, there is no dairy in the original Starburst candies. The classic Starburst flavors, including cherry, strawberry, lemon, and orange, do not contain milk, milk products, or any other dairy ingredients. So Starburst is considered vegan and dairy-free.

Examining the Starburst Ingredients List

To get a definitive answer on whether Starburst contains dairy, we can examine the ingredients list printed on Starburst wrappers:

  • Corn syrup
  • Hydrogenated palm kernel oil
  • Fruit juice from concentrate (strawberry, lemon, cherry, orange)
  • Dried citrus pulp
  • Gelatin
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Coloring (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1)
  • Carnauba wax

As we go through this list, there are no milk-based ingredients like milk, milk protein, milk fat, cream, butter, cheese, or yogurt. The sweetness in Starburst comes from corn syrup, and the chewiness comes from gelatin, which is produced from animal collagen, not dairy. The fats used are vegetable-based oils. And the flavors and colors are from artificial sources, not dairy.

Why Starburst is Considered Dairy-Free

When a food product does not contain milk-based ingredients, like Starburst candies, it can be labeled as dairy-free or non-dairy. Here are some of the reasons why Starburst can be considered a dairy-free candy:

  • No milk-derived ingredients are listed in the ingredients
  • Not made on equipment that processes milk
  • No allergen warnings for milk or dairy
  • Starburst wrappers do not say “contains dairy”
  • Starburst FAQs state the candy is dairy-free

You’ll notice that Starburst wrappers do not have any allergen warnings for milk, lactose, casein or whey. Nor do they state “contains dairy.” This is required for any products made in facilities that process milk.

Additionally, on Starburst frequently asked questions sites, they clearly state that Starburst products do not contain milk or milk derivatives. This covers all the classic fruity flavors as well as limited edition and seasonal Starburst products.

What About Starburst Gummies and Jellybeans?

While the classic taffy Starburst candies are dairy-free, some other Starburst products do contain dairy-based ingredients:

  • Starburst Gummies – Contain milk and whey
  • Starburst Jellybeans – Contain lactose

Always check the ingredients list for these alternative Starburst products if you want to avoid dairy. The gummies and jellybeans require different recipes and manufacturing processes that incorporate milk-based ingredients.

What About Potential Cross-Contamination?

While Starburst ingredients are dairy-free, some people wonder about potential cross-contamination with milk during manufacturing. It is true that Starburst candies are made in facilities that also process milk products. However, the brand ensures thorough cleaning protocols are in place and that any Starburst products labeled dairy-free are segregated from milk-containing products.

Individuals with severe milk allergies or intolerance should always exercise caution. But Starburst has reassured consumers that cross-contamination is extremely unlikely.

Why is Starburst Dairy-Free?

Starburst has no functional need to include dairy ingredients like milk or butter in its recipe. Here are some reasons Starburst candies are able to be dairy-free:

  • Corn syrup provides a sweet, sticky base
  • Gelatin gives the chewy texture
  • Fruit flavors come from natural and artificial flavorings
  • Fats for consistency come from hydrogenated oils
  • Color is added with artificial food dyes
  • Milk ingredients would be unnecessary and more expensive

Ensuring their products are dairy-free also allows Starburst to appeal to a wider consumer base, including those avoiding dairy for dietary, religious or ethical reasons.

When Was Starburst Introduced?

The original Starburst candy was developed by Peter Pfeffer in the early 1960s under the brand name Opal Fruits. The chewy candy was first sold in the UK in 1960, debuting in the United States in 1967 as M&M’s Fruit Chews. After a branding shift in the late 1960s, the candy became known as Starburst.

Interestingly, orange was not one of the original Opal Fruits flavors. The original fruity flavors were strawberry, lemon, lime and blackcurrant. Orange replaced lime when the candy transitioned to the Starburst identity.

What Flavors Does Starburst Come In?

Today, the four classic Starburst flavors available year-round are:

  • Strawberry
  • Cherry
  • Lemon
  • Orange

These four fruits have been the core Starburst flavors for decades. Occasionally, limited batches will include other fruit flavors, like Starburst FaveReds, which features an all cherry lineup.

Some of the unique limited edition Starburst flavors over the years have included:

  • Strawberry Banana
  • Melon
  • Raspberry
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Passionfruit
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Guava
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit

So while strawberry, cherry, lemon and orange remain the perennial favorites, Starburst does occasionally experiment with specialty fruit flavors.

What Forms Does Starburst Come In?

The most common shape for Starburst is the wrapped smaller cubes known as Mini Starburst. However, you can also find Starburst in these forms:

  • Original Size – Large wrapped squares
  • Big Block – Extra large cubes
  • Mini Bars – Miniature sized bars
  • Gummies – Chewy star-shaped gummies
  • Jellybeans – Small jellybeans in Starburst flavors
  • Candy Canes – For holiday season
  • Gummis – Gelatin-free sour gummies

The classic wrapped Mini Starburst cubes remain the most popular. But over the years Starburst has expanded to many shapes, sizes and textures while sticking with the same classic fruit flavors.

Who Makes Starburst?

Starburst is made by The Wrigley Company, which has been a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated since 2008. Wrigley was founded in 1891 and produces many popular candy brands like Skittles, Life Savers, Altoids and 5TM gum.

Mars Wrigley Confectionery manufactures Starburst at facilities in the United States, UK, and other countries around the world. The company also handles global distribution of Starburst to over 70 countries.

Is Starburst Candy Vegan?

Since Starburst does not contain any animal-derived ingredients like dairy or eggs, the candy is considered vegan. However, it’s important to note that Starburst does contain gelatin.

Gelatin is animal-derived. However, there are two types:

  • Gelatin derived from animals – Made by boiling skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals like pigs and cows. Not vegan.
  • Gelatin derived from plants – Made from seaweed extract. Considered vegan.

Starburst gets its chewy gelatin texture from animal-derived gelatin, not vegan alternatives. So strict vegans may still want to avoid Starburst for this reason.

Is Starburst Candy Gluten-Free?

Yes, Starburst candy is considered gluten-free. Gluten refers to proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Starburst ingredients do not contain any grains with gluten. Also, the Starburst manufacturing facilities have protocols in place to prevent gluten cross-contamination.

Starburst can be enjoyed by those following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which rates effectiveness and safety of natural products, also lists Starburst as gluten-free.

Does Starburst Have Gelatin?

Yes, gelatin is an ingredient in Starburst, according to the Starburst ingredients list. Gelatin is what gives Starburst its soft, chewy texture.

Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen taken from animal parts like skin, bones, and connective tissue. Gelatin thickens and stabilizes foods like candy, yogurt, ice cream, and jello.

On Starburst, gelatin is listed after the fruit juices and before the artificial flavors and colors. Gelatin allows Starburst to be chewed and stretched into strings unlike hard candies. The gelatin source in Starburst is not vegetable-based.

Is Starburst Candy Fat Free?

Starburst is not completely fat free, but it is very low in fat. There are 0.5 grams of total fat in a standard 2-piece serving of Starburst cubes.

The small amount of fat in Starburst candy comes from hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Palm kernel oil is extracted from the seeds of oil palm trees. This plant-derived oil is used to provide some creaminess and texture to the candy.

However, at less than 1 gram of fat per serving, Starburst can be considered a low-fat food. The fat content is low enough for the candy to be labeled as “fat free” according to FDA guidelines.

Is Starburst Candy Bad For You?

Like most candies and sweets, Starburst should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Some downsides of Starburst nutrition can include:

  • High in sugar – Contains 23 grams of sugar per 2-piece serving
  • Low in nutrients – Minimal vitamins, minerals, or protein
  • Artificial ingredients – Uses artificial colors and synthetic chemicals

However, small amounts of Starburst as an occasional treat are unlikely to be harmful for most people. Those with diabetes or weight concerns may want to limit intake of sugary candies like Starburst.


Starburst has delighted candy fans with its fruit-flavored chewy cubes for over 50 years. And over that time, the classic Starburst recipe has remained dairy-free, allowing those avoiding milk to still enjoy this fruity, soft taffy treat.

By examining the Starburst ingredients list and nutrition facts closely, it’s clear that the popular candy does not contain any type of dairy, milk, cream or butter. The chewiness instead comes from gelatin, the fats from vegetable oils, and flavors from artificial sources.

So outside of specialty products like Starburst Gummies, the standard Starburst candies that have delighted tastebuds for generations continue to be free of milk and suitable for vegan diets. Starburst can be enjoyed with confidence by those avoiding dairy due to preference or allergy.

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