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Taking a deep dive into the popular Milky Way candy bars to find out whether or not they are truly gluten-free.
When it comes to finding gluten-free candy, it isn't always easy. Gluten-free chocolate can even tricker. This is because chocolate is often mixed with various ingredients to help make the flavor distinct and draw the consumer in to want to eat more of it. Milky Way candy bars are very popular, but what are they made of? Are Milky Way candy bars gluten-free?
The original Milky Way candy bars are NOT gluten-free. However, there are a few varieties of Milky Way candy bars that are considered gluten-free. Because of the differences, it's important to make sure you are consuming the right varieties on a gluten-free diet.
Ingredients in Milky Ways.
The original version of Milky Ways has the following 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.
The main culprit that makes the original Milky Way candy bar NOT gluten-free is the barley malt extract. Barley is one of the main grains that contain gluten, and it has been used for decades to enhance the flavor of chocolate.
Milky Way varieties.
Mars Wrigley, the parent company that makes the Milky Way candy, makes a few different varieties the original, simply caramel, a midnight dark chocolate bar, and a fudge bar.
- The simply caramel Milky Way is just what the name implies, caramel dipped in milk chocolate.
- The midnight dark chocolate Milky Way bar contains a vanilla nougat, topped with chocolate and then coated in dark chocolate.
- Milky Way fudge bar is a fudge nougat that is topped with caramel and dipped in milk chocolate.
Gluten-free Milky Ways
While the original Milky Way candy bar is NOT gluten-free. Both the simply caramel and the midnight dark ARE gluten-free.
Neither one of these varieties contain the barley malt extract found in the original version.
- Dairy - All of the varieties of Milky Ways contain dairy, making these not a safe option for those needing to stay dairy-free. The presence of dairy also means that Milky Ways are not vegan either.
- Eggs - Milk Way candy bars contain egg whites, so they should be avoided by anyone with an egg allergy.
- Soy - Milky Ways contain soy lecithin, which is a food additive, usually used as an emulsifier and flavor enhancer.
- Peanuts - While Milky Way candy bars do not specifically contain peanuts, their packaging contains the allergy warning label that says they may contain peanuts. This is probably due to processing. If someone is worried about cross-contact with peanuts, they should most likely avoid consuming Milky Ways.
Milky Way allergen labeling.
- It is important to note that Mars Wrigley does NOT list wheat under their allergy information label on the packaging of their original Milky Ways.
- This is likely because while barley is NOT gluten-free, the labeling requirements in the United States go based on the top eight allergens. Wheat is one of them; barley is not. Therefore the presence of barley malt, aka a gluten-containing ingredient, is not wheat and does not have to be listed under the allergy warning on the label.
- None of the varieties of Milky Ways are listed as gluten-free, including the caramel and midnight varieties. Even though those two varieties do not contain any gluten ingredients. This is likely due to the possibility of manufacturing and gluten present on machines. This does not mean they are not gluten-free. This just means they are not tested to confirm they didn't become contaminated with gluten.
More reasons it is important to know how to read labels.
Only the original version of Milky Ways contains barley malt, which makes these not gluten-free. The simply caramel and the midnight versions of the Milky Ways do not contain barley malt and do not list any other ingredients that contain gluten. This means these two varieties should be considered gluten-free and safe for individuals on a gluten-free diet or celiac to consume.
It is important to always check the labels before consuming. Companies can and do change ingredients from time to time, depending on manufacturing and supply chains.
Want to know more?
Check out more gluten-free product articles to make sure you're staying gluten-free.
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