Is Milky Way Gluten-Free?
The original Milky Way Milk Chocolate bar contains barley malt extract and is not gluten-free. Milky Way Midnight Dark Chocolate bars and Milky Way Simply Caramel Milk Chocolate bars have no gluten ingredients. Read on to make an informed decision about enjoying the latter two.
This is life with celiac disease or gluten intolerance! We spend every Halloween (or any other excuse for a sugar rush) googling:
- Are Twizzlers gluten-free? (no, they contain wheat)
- Are Milk Duds gluten-free? (yes)
- Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups gluten-free? (Per Reese’s, “all varieties of REESE’S peanut butter cups are gluten-free except for seasonally shaped items. )
- Are M&M’s gluten-free? (it depends)
- And your pressing question at the moment, are Milky Way bars gluten-free?
Let’s walk through the process of determining if Milky Way Bars are gluten-free, which you can use with any candy manufacturer, and then I’ll share some tips for getting ready for the next big candy holiday.
Mars Wrigley Declares Gluten-Ingredients
Mars Wrigley is the manufacturer of Milky Way bars. The manufacturer is the most reliable source of current and accurate information about the gluten-free status of a product.
Here is the Mars Wrigley allergen statement from its website:
Any ingredient added as part of the recipe, whether it is a source of allergen or not, will appear in the ingredient declaration or listing on the packaging. This ingredients declaration provides the latest and most accurate information.
This means there are no hidden gluten-containing ingredients in Mars Wrigley candy. Current United States labeling laws require that manufacturers disclose the top 9 allergens, of which wheat is one and barley and rye are not. This leaves a huge gap where the gluten ingredients barley and rye can be “hidden” from consumers under names such as natural flavors. Mars Wrigley closes this gap by committing to declare all ingredients. Yay, Mars Wrigley!
3 Types of Milky Way Bars: Ingredients & Gluten
So now that we know that the company will not hide gluten in Milky Way bars without disclosing it, let’s check out the ingredients listed on the Mars Wrigley website. Note, Mars advises: please refer to the product label for the most accurate nutrition, ingredient, and allergen information.
Milky Way Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, skim milk, less than 2% – milkfat, cocoa powder processed with alkali, barley malt extract, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor. contains milk, egg, and soy. may contain peanuts.
There it is, right in the ingredients list, barley malt extract. The regular Milky Way Milk Chocolate Bar is clearly not gluten-free. As a former fan of the original Milky Way candy bars, this was a tough blow.
Let’s check out the ingredients of the other two Milky Way bars: caramel and dark chocolate.
Milky Way Simply Caramel Milk Chocolate ingredients list:
Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, skim milk, milkfat, lactose, salt, chocolate, artificial flavor. contains milk and soy. may contain peanuts and egg.
There are no gluten ingredients in the Milky Way Caramel bar!
Milky Way Midnight Dark Chocolate ingredients list:
Semisweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavor), corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, skim milk, less than 1.5% – milkfat, lactose, salt, egg whites, natural and artificial flavors, chocolate. contains milk, egg, and soy. may contain peanuts.
There are no gluten ingredients in the Milky Way Dark Chocolate bar!
While Mars Wrigley voluntarily declares all ingredients, it does not make a gluten-free claim on its label. Doing so would require testing a product with a gluten-free claim to verify that it contains less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. Without this claim and the related safeguards and testing, there is a risk of cross-contamination.
If cross-contamination is a concern for you (it is for me), you will have to make an individual assessment of the risk.
In making this decision, the reliability of the manufacturer is another factor to weigh. Mars Wrigley is a major manufacturer with allergen education and protocols in place. Additionally, it is a leader in allergen management.
As a celiac and the mother of a child with celiac disease who is extremely sensitive to accidental gluten exposures, I personally eat and allow my daughter to eat caramel and dark chocolate Milky Way bars. Obviously, we do not eat the original Milky Ways.
Other Popular Mars Wrigley Candy Brands
All Mars Wrigley products will declare gluten-containing ingredients on the label. As with the Milky Way bars, the company does not make a gluten-free claim, so there is a risk of cross-contact. Here are a few popular Mars Wrigley brands that will likely end up in your child’s candy haul:
- 3 Musketeers: no gluten-ingredients
- M&M’s: Check the label! Some varieties have no gluten ingredients, but Crispy, Pretzel & Crunchy Cookie varieties contain wheat.
- Skittles: no gluten-ingredients
- Snickers: no gluten-ingredients
- Twix: not gluten-free, contains wheat
Always refer to the manufacturer’s website and the product label for up-to-date information. Manufacturers may change ingredients or add to their product lines at any time.
Top 3 Tips for Gluten-Free Candy Holidays
Get a regularly-updated, candy list from a reliable source.
The Celiac Disease Foundation maintains and updates candy lists for several major holidays, as well as a general candy list. This is the list I personally trust!
Brush up on the latest information with a visit to the candy aisle.
Head to your favorite grocery or Big Box store before the holiday and review candy labels. Many of your favorite products are already labeled gluten-free or conversely have wheat plainly declared on the label.
Note: not every manufacturer voluntarily discloses barley and rye, so just looking for wheat is not sufficient to determine if a product is safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.
Go directly to the manufacturer.
Look at the website of the major candy manufacturers if the labels alone don’t answer your questions. Many will answer your questions right on the website. Hershey’s, another candy manufacturing giant, allows you to search for products under the gluten-free category. Or reach out to a manufacturer via phone, email, or social media.
Check out my Gluten-Free Halloween Guide or go straight to my best tip for getting rid of your celiac child’s gluten candy without tears!