Keeping Candy Safe
Trying to avoid allergies can be complicated when people try to sneak in even small amounts of allergen-containing food into candies to flavor them. Knowing which candies to look for is important, especially during seasons where giving away candy is commonplace and standard.
There are two routes that you can go down when you are looking for peanut- and tree nut-free candies, and these are going to be the routes of looking at candies naturally free from those ingredients, such as natural chocolate, or choosing to look for mostly chemical candies. After all, when a candy’s flavor is obtained primarily through chemical and synthetic flavoring, it won’t need any allergen-containing ingredients to help enhance that flavor.
Finding chocolate can be hard when you have a nut allergy, especially considering that not every place has a dedicated nut-free facility. The extent of how nut-free to go depends on how severe the allergy is. Some places can get away with producing candies that have no peanuts and tree nuts in them, but because they were made on the same machinery that touches the nuts, they may not be safe to eat. Always make sure that you look closely to see if the candy you are looking at is made in a dedicated facility if you know you are that sensitive to an allergen.
This is the primary concern with chocolate, especially from companies such as Hershey’s and Mars. Both of these companies make chocolates that contain no nuts in them, but they also make chocolates that do. There is no indication of how thoroughly the machinery that touches nuts is cleaned, meaning that someone with a severe enough allergy may still be affected by them. Consider looking at companies dedicated to providing fully nut-free facilities if you have allergies to this extent.
Mints are generally going to be a safe food to eat, considering that they will be primarily made from the mint plant. They may have sugars and other ingredients in them to make them more candy-like, and this is something to consider; however, more often than not, companies that make mints do not regularly handle recipes that have nuts in them. In some cases, this means that chocolate-covered mints can be safe as well, but always remember to double-check if you know you are particularly sensitive.
Some companies that produce chocolate covered mints are owned by companies that produce candy with nuts in it, meaning that the mint candies may have come into contact with machinery that has touched the nuts. Remember that if you are ever in doubt, it is best to err on the side of caution and look for exclusively mints that are made in dedicated facilities.
Toffee is a risky area to tread, and if you have a severe allergy, it is best not to go near it. While there are certainly nut-free toffees out there, a common combination of candy is going to be toffee with nuts. This means that unless you are sourcing your toffee from a dedicated nut-free facility, then there’s a good chance that the machinery used to process the toffee will have come into contact with nuts at some point. It is best to be careful with toffee and only purchase it from dedicated facilities, as the combination of nuts and toffee is too common to take risks with.
Gummies and similar gummy-like snacks follow the same guidelines as mint when it comes to being careful of nuts. Gummies typically do not have nuts anywhere in the ingredient list and the combination of nuts and gummies is rare enough that most facilities are not going to even touch it. The danger comes from sourcing your gummy snacks from companies owned by others where production may involve the same facility as nut-containing candies. Always be mindful of who owns the company and where the candy itself is actually being produced.
Much as with mints, you are going to have a good chance of finding dedicated nut-free facilities with gummies than other candies, but there is always going to be a risk to look for. For better or worse, gummies are typically flavored with chemical agents, meaning that there is no need to bring any nut-containing ingredient anywhere near them; therefore, there is a good chance that you can enjoy them without an issue.
This is another candy that you can generally have safely. Much as with gummies, lollipops are traditionally made with sugar and chemical flavoring, meaning that there is no reason for any nuts to be in the facility. Based on the nature of how lollipops are consumed, there is also no reason for a facility to include nut-containing variations of them either. Again, the danger comes from the lollipops being produced in a facility owned by a company that also produces nut-containing candies, increasing the risk of cross-contamination. If you know you have a severe allergy, always make the safer call and do not purchase candies from places that are not dedicated to providing nut-free facilities.