The quick answers are:
- Original M&Ms are gluten-free
- Peanut M&Ms are gluten-free
- Almond M&Ms are gluten-free
- All Skittles flavors are gluten-free
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, sticking to a gluten-free diet is essential. But giving up gluten doesn’t mean giving up all your favorite candies and treats. Many popular candy brands offer gluten-free options, including fan favorites like M&Ms and Skittles.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at two of the most beloved candy staples, M&Ms and Skittles, and determine which varieties are safe for gluten-free diets. We’ll examine the ingredients lists of the most common flavors and styles to see if any gluten-containing grains are used. We’ll also consider how cross-contamination risks may affect the gluten-free status of these candies.
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for a gift for a gluten-free friend or family member, this guide will outline exactly which M&M and Skittle products can be safely enjoyed on a gluten-free diet. Keep reading to become an expert on which of these classic candies are gluten-free!
What Makes a Candy Gluten-Free?
For a candy to be considered gluten-free, it must not contain any ingredients derived from the gluten-containing grains wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. That includes obvious ingredients like wheat flour, but also less obvious derivatives like malt vinegar, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch.
In addition, the candy must be produced in a facility that avoids cross-contamination with gluten. Gluten-free candies should be made on dedicated equipment separate from any gluten-containing products. They should also be packaged to prevent accidental contact with gluten.
With these criteria in mind, let’s evaluate the most popular M&M and Skittle flavors.
Are Original M&Ms Gluten-Free?
The iconic original M&Ms contain milk chocolate surrounding a crispy candy shell. According to Mars Wrigley, the manufacturer, these original M&Ms are gluten-free.
The ingredients are: milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, skim milk, cocoa butter, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, salt, artificial and natural flavors), sugar, corn starch, less than 1% – corn syrup, dextrose, natural and artificial colors (blue 1 lake, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 2 lake, blue 1, yellow 5 lake, blue 2), gum acacia.
None of these ingredients are derived from gluten-containing grains. The coloring agents, starch, and sweeteners used are also gluten-free.
In addition, Mars Wrigley states that all M&Ms are produced in facilities that control for gluten cross-contamination. The equipment used to make gluten-free varieties is thoroughly cleaned and separated from any equipment handling gluten ingredients.
Therefore, original M&Ms can be considered gluten-free.
Other Gluten-Free M&M Varieties
In addition to original, several other M&Ms flavors are labeled gluten-free by Mars Wrigley:
- Peanut M&Ms
- Almond M&Ms
- Pretzel M&Ms
- Crispy M&Ms
These varieties may contain additional ingredients like peanuts, almonds, or pretzels, but the recipes avoid any gluten-containing grains. The facilities and equipment also protect against cross-contamination.
Which M&Ms Are Not Gluten-Free?
While many standard M&Ms flavors are gluten-free, there are a few exceptions:
- M&M’S Chocolate Bar
- M&M’S Brand Birthday Cake
- M&M’S Brand Holiday Cookie
These specialty seasonal and limited-edition products contain ingredients like wheat flour and barley malt that exclude them from a gluten-free diet.
It’s important to carefully inspect the labels of any specialty, seasonal, or limited-edition M&Ms to look for gluten-containing ingredients. Sticking to the standard gluten-free varieties is the safest bet.
Are Skittles Gluten-Free?
Great news for Skittles fans – all flavors of the rainbow-colored candy are gluten-free! Mars Wrigley states that their recipes and manufacturing practices for Skittles ensure the candies are free of all gluten-containing ingredients.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients list of Original Skittles:
Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, apple juice from concentrate, less than 2% – citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, coloring (includes blue 1 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake, blue 1, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 2 lake, blue 2), sodium citrate, carnauba wax.
Like M&Ms, Mars uses gluten-free starches, oils, and juices to achieve Skittles’ signature sweet and chewy texture. No gluten-containing ingredients are included.
All Skittles varieties, including Tropical, Wild Berry, Crazy Cores, Sour, Sweet Heat and more are produced on shared equipment that is thoroughly cleaned between gluten and gluten-free production runs. This prevents cross-contamination.
Therefore, all Skittles flavors can be safely enjoyed on a gluten-free diet.
Which Candy Has Fewer Cross-Contamination Risks?
Both M&Ms and Skittles are considered gluten-free, but some people who are highly sensitive may want to choose the candy with the lowest risk of gluten cross-contamination.
Overall, Skittles may have slightly less risk. Here’s why:
- Skittles factories are dedicated gluten-free facilities. M&Ms factories also make some gluten-containing products.
- Original Skittles have fewer flavor varieties than M&Ms, meaning less equipment changeover.
- Skittles have no specialty flavors that contain gluten.
However, both candies are made by Mars Wrigley, follow strict allergen controls, and regularly test for gluten. The risks are very low for both.
Those with celiac disease or wheat allergy should feel comfortable choosing either candy, while the extremely gluten-sensitive may feel slightly more secure sticking to Skittles.
Other Gluten-Free Candy Options
In addition to Skittles and M&Ms, many other favorite candy brands offer gluten-free options:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Snickers Bars
- Twix Caramel Cookie Bars
- Kit Kat Bars
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Nestle Crunch Bars
Fruit and Gummy Candy
- Jolly Ranchers
- Swedish Fish
- Haribo Gold Bears
- Skittles Wild Berry
- Lifesavers Gummies
- Lindt LINDOR Truffles
- Air Heads
- Mike and Ike
Be sure to check brands and ingredient lists, as recipes can change over time. Additionally, some facilities may have higher gluten cross-contamination risks. But overall, there are still plenty of tasty gluten-free candy options!
Should Those with Celiac Disease Avoid All Candy?
Some with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may wonder if they should avoid candy altogether, even varieties labeled gluten-free.
For most people, occasional enjoyment of gluten-free candy in moderation is considered safe. The ingredients have been verified, and manufacturing facilities maintain high standards for allergen control.
However, those with celiac disease should ensure they maintain a healthy, balanced gluten-free diet overall. Consuming candy too frequently could displace healthier foods needed for well-being.
Additionally, some with celiac disease have found specific candies aggravate symptoms even when labeled gluten-free. Pay attention to personal tolerance levels.
Finally, home-made and bulk bin candies may carry higher risks due to uncertain ingredient sources and handling practices. Commercially packaged brands follow stricter protocols.
By selecting trusted packaged candy brands that label products gluten-free, most people with celiac disease can enjoy the occasional gluten-free treat without issue. But consuming a variety of more nutritious foods should remain the priority.
Can Gluten-Free Candy Be Contaminated at Halloween?
Around Halloween, kids and adults alike enjoy digging into candy loot. But is it safe for those with celiac disease?
The main risk is cross-contamination from other candies. Mini candy bars may be tossed all in one bag, potentially touching and mingling with gluten-containing varieties.
To be safe, those with gluten sensitivity should thoroughly inspect their Halloween candy. Check brand names against the gluten-free lists above. And if certain pieces seem risky due to potential contact with other candies, set them aside to be swapped or given away.
With a careful inspection, Halloween candy can still be enjoyed by those on a gluten-free diet. Just be diligent about checking labels and watching for cross-contamination.
Making Sure Candy Is Safe for Those with Allergies
In households and classrooms, it’s important to ensure candy is safe for anyone with food allergies or intolerances, including gluten. Here are some tips:
- Read all candy ingredient labels and purchase gluten-free varieties
- Keep gluten-free candy in separate bowls/bags from other candy containing allergens
- Wash hands before preparing candy to prevent cross-contact
- Remind kids to only eat candy that is safe for them
- Allow trading of unsafe candy for safe alternatives
Taking precautions helps make candy time safer and more inclusive for all.
Checking candy ingredient lists diligently and choosing reputable brands makes enjoying gluten-free treats possible. Original M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, almond M&Ms, and all Skittles flavors contain no gluten sources or cross-contamination risks.
Those with celiac disease and food sensitivities don’t have to miss out on these beloved classics. By understanding which varieties are gluten-free and taking basic precautions, snacking on these tasty candies can still be part of the fun.