According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization, over 6 million Americans have a peanut allergy (1).
This makes finding peanut-free foods — including peanut-free candy — highly important. Since allergic reactions can occur through ingestion, contact, and inhalation, more and more schools and workplaces are going peanut free.
Here are tips for choosing a safer peanut-free candy, ingredients to be mindful of, and 12 of the top-rated peanut-free candy brands.
Choosing Peanut Free Candy
If you have a peanut allergy, it goes without saying that you must check the ingredients list to ensure the product is free of peanuts.
If a product contains peanuts, manufacturers must clearly disclose this in the ingredients list since they are one of the eight most common allergens — otherwise known as the “top eight.”
However, manufacturers aren’t required to label their products with advisory statements when there is a potential risk of traces of an allergen or cross-contact with allergens during processing. Therefore, the absence of an advisory statement does not necessarily guarantee its safety.
Also, keep in mind, “traces” of peanuts can be enough to cause allergic reactions in some. Researchers tested 200 products bearing a peanut advisory on the label and found significant levels of peanut protein in 6.5% of the products (2).
The safest option to avoid cross-contact is to choose brands that process their candy on dedicated peanut-free equipment or in dedicated peanut-free facilities. To help you identify these products, some manufactures place a peanut-free seal on the label. For others, a quick email or phone call to the manufacturer can help clear up any concerns.
Besides peanuts, here are some ingredients to be mindful of when choosing peanut-free candy:
- Artificial colors. Numerous gummies, licorices, and other vibrant candies are peanut-free, but many are dyed using artificial colors. While artificial colors used in food are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), their use is controversial. Plus, there is mixed evidence on whether artificial colors are linked to hyperactivity in children. Additionally, some studies have demonstrated cancer-causing effects, though this research was done in animals at very high doses (3, 4, 5, 6).
- Artificial flavors. Like artificial colors, artificial flavors are recognized as safe by the FDA, but are controversial. They mimic the chemical structure of flavors found in nature, but some argue that safety studies are lacking on certain artificial flavors. Additionally, manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the exact flavors used in a product and “artificial flavoring” listed in the ingredients without details is common (7).
- Palm oil. Palm oil as a type of oil with pervasive production practices that raise several ethical concerns around deforestation, sustainability, and human rights (8, 9).
- Added sugar. Because they are a source of empty calories, the American Heart Association advises enjoying added sugars in moderation — more specifically, around 6-9 teaspoons (25-36 grams) per day.
Along with ingredients, consider checking the label for certifications or seals indicating the product is ethically sourced. This is especially important for candy products, as both sugar and cocoa production have been associated with unsafe working conditions that exploit farmers. Fair trade certifications help support better working conditions for farmers, plus ensure they receive a fair price for their hard-earned goods (10).
Like almost all candy and other sweet indulgences, our top-rated peanut-free candies contain some added sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. However, they are free of artificial colors, flavors, and are more ethically sourced than your average peanut-free candy.
1. Eating Evolved Midnight Coconut Primal Chocolate
According to the manufacturer, there are no peanuts processed in the Evolved Chocolate facility.
Allergen statement: contains coconut. May contain traces of almonds, cashews, hazelnut, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.
2. Tcho Extra Dark Chocolate Bar
According to the manufacturer, TCHO is a 100% peanut-free facility.
Allergen statement: produced in a facility that also processes milk, soy, and tree nuts.
3. Raaka Pink Sea Salt Chocolate
According to the manufacturer, Raaka does not process peanuts in their facility
Allergen statement: This product does not have an advisory statement, though it is labeled as vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free.
4. Mast Brothers Mini Coffee Chocolate Bar
According to the manufacturer, Mast Brothers does not use any peanuts in their products at this time.
Allergen statement: may contain traces of milk and nuts.
5. Alter Eco Sea Salt Deep Dark Organic Chocolate
According to their website, Alter Eco products are made in a peanut-free facility.
Allergen statement: Made on equipment shared with milk, hazelnuts, almonds, coconut, and soy. Individuals who are allergic to these should not consume this product.
6. Taza Chocolates Organic Wicked Dark Chocolate Bar
According to the manufacturer, Taza Chocolate does not process peanuts in their facility.
Allergen statement: Contains traces of almonds, cashews, coconut, hazelnuts, and pecans.
7. Torie & Howard Organic Pomegranate Nectarine Hard Candy
According to the manufacturer, Torie & Howard candies are made on peanut-free equipment.
Allergen statement: none.
8. Hu Kitchen Chocolate Covered Sour Goldenberries
While there are no peanuts used in this product, it is made on equipment that also produces products containing peanuts.
Allergen statement: contains coconut. May contain traces of almond, cashew, and hazelnut. Production equipment is thoroughly cleaned prior to making this product but be aware that this product is made on equipment that is also used to produce items containing tree nuts, soy, peanuts, milk and wheat.
9. Panda Raspberry Licorice Chews
Allergen statement: contains wheat. Does not contain high-fructose corn syrup. Does not contain eggs. Does not contain lactose/milk. Does not contain gelatin/ingredients from pork. Does not contain peanuts. Does not contain nuts/almonds. Does not contain soy.
10. Glee Tangerine Gum
According to their website, “Glee Gum does not contain any of the eight major food allergens: milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, or soybeans. However, soy is present in the facility where Glee Gum is made.”
Allergen statement: all Glee Gum is vegetarian, Non-GMO Project Verified, certified kosher, additive free, dairy free, wheat free, gluten free, egg free, yeast free, nut free, and peanut free. Soy is present in the facility.
11. Enjoy Life Foods Dark Chocolate Bars
According to their website, Enjoy Life Food’s bakery is “dedicated gluten-free and nut-free, and none of the 14 allergens listed on our packaging are present in the space.”
Allergen statement: free from wheat, casein, sulfites, shellfish, peanuts, soy, lupin, crustaceans, tree nuts, egg, mustard, dairy, sesame, fish.
12. Free2b Foods Dark Chocolate Sun Cups
According to their website, Free2b Foods are made in a dedicated facility, free of 12 allergens — including peanuts.
Allergen statement: free of gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree-nuts, coconut, egg, sesame, soy, mustard, corn, fish, and shellfish
Key takeaways for choosing peanut-free candy
First and foremost, check the ingredients list for peanuts if you have an allergy. In addition, check for an advisory statement indicating whether the product has been manufactured alongside peanuts.
When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or opt for a trusted product instead. There are a variety of peanut-free candy brands to choose from whether you are avoiding artificial colors, artificial flavors, or unsustainable ingredients.
For a more ethical peanut-free candy, look for products labeled with a fair trade seal.
GreenChoice, PBC has evaluated and rated more than 340,000 food & beverage products across hundreds of attributes related to diet, health, and sustainability. Easily find the best products for you, the planet, & your budget. Download the free GreenChoice app for Apple iO or Android!