It’s almost Halloween meaning it’s time to start stocking up on treats for all those ghouls and goblins that will be gracing your doorstep on October 31st. If you or your child is gluten-free Halloween can be a challenge but thankfully an increasing amount of candy manufacturers are sympathetic to the needs of the gluten-free.
The good news is that many of the major candy manufacturers are now making their products ‘without gluten-containing ingredients’ which is a big improvement from just a few years ago when nearly half of your bag of candy was sure to contain wheat.
The less-than-good news is that few manufacturers are certifying their candy as ‘gluten-free’. What this means is that you or your child has to accept some risk that there may be cross-contamination from gluten-containing candies that are made in the same factory or even on the same manufacturing line as the candy that is made ‘without gluten-containing ingredients’.
Fortunately, the candy industry has been working hard to accommodate the gluten-free. We have the people with the peanut and tree nut allergies (almonds, walnuts, pecans) to thank for that. Since their reactions are severe with respect to the discomfort felt by the gluten-intolerant they have paved the way by making their voices heard to ensure the candy manufacturers accurately label their treats with allergen information.
So while that individually-wrapped Reese's Peanut Butter cup or Almond Joy treat may not list all of the ingredients it will list major allergens which are currently defined by the USFDA as follows: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
Note that the allergen information does not include information on barley or rye which are also sources of gluten. Barley malt will occasionally be used to flavor the crisped rice used in some candies. Fortunately for the gluten-sensitive, rye is almost never used in candy manufacturing.
In addition to allergen information many candy manufacturers are also listing cross-contamination information for those who are severely sensitive. Cross-contamination information will be shown with a statement that begins with the words ‘MANUFACTURED ON EQUIPMENT THAT PROCESSES’. For the gluten-sensitive we need to confirm that the product is not manufactured on equipment that processes ‘WHEAT’.
For easy tutorials on cross-contamination and reading product labels you can purchase our cookbook Easy Delicious Gluten-Free Skillet Meals which gives instructions for determining if a product contains gluten or has potential to be cross-contaminated with gluten.
For those who are willing to accept the risk of cross-contamination with gluten there are listings of popular candies that are made ‘without gluten-containing ingredients’. Click the link for a recent (2017) listing of packaged candy that is generally considered safe for the gluten-free.
This list has been reviewed by a board-certified physician. If you are extremely sensitive to gluten always check the wrapper label for additional confirmation that the product does not contain wheat and is not manufactured on a manufacturing line that processes items that contain wheat.
Have fun and enjoy a gluten-safe Halloween!