Friday, September 3, 2010

Is Hershey's Chocolate Nut-Free?

With school in session again, I'm getting a lot of questions about candy and snacks. I thought it was time to revisit my nut-free Hershey chocolate info. A lo fo people want to know "Is Hershey's Chocolate nut free?" Here is a blog that I wrote in the past year:

Like me, a lot of you have probably called Hershey in the past. They have pretty thorough information on their labels, according to the reps I've spoken to and appear to take appropriate safety protocols. For those of you who want a nut-free facility for your chocolates, of course I will plug Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates once again! They have a huge selection of nut-free chocolates including baking chocolate, themed chocolate candies and some delicious new nut-free snacks. They are always my first choice.

Now, on to Hershey: I have used most of the following Hershey's products and they've worked out fine for my severely nut-allergic daughter. However, depending on your situation, they may not work for you. Always check with your doctor if you've got additional questions.

OK, with the disclaimer out of the way, here is the list of Hershey's candies that are currently "safe" for people allergic to tree nuts and peanuts:

Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar - regular size 1.5 oz (KING Size or any other size of this bar does have cross contamination)--- this bar is made on a dedicated line 24 hours per day (does contain milk)

Jolly Ranchers - hard candy

Twizzlers - Strawberry (does contain wheat and soy)

York Peppermint Patty (does contain milk)

Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses (does contain milk)

Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

Hershey's Cocoa Powder (for baking)

Check out this link from the FAQS page at Hershey. It confirms what I have been told--if there is any concern about crossover contact, they will have an allergy warning such as "may contains" or "processed on equipment with." If you don't see this type of allergy warning you can then deem the product "safe."

For example, that would mean plain Hershey's milk chocolate kisses are safe for nut allergies. For other varieties--and there are so many--please read the labels carefully. Also, Hershey's semi-sweet baking chips are OK. This is good to know since Nestle, many people's old standyby, are off limits.

Of course, companies can make mistakes so we never have guarantees when purchasing prepared foods from a facility that is not dedicated nut-free. However, kudos to Hershey (located in my husband's hometown!) for taking food allergies seriously. If you have questions about specific allergy needs, you can call Hershey at 1-800-468-1714. Hours are Monday-Friday between 9 and 4 ET.



23 comments:

Flott Fitness said...

Although Vermont Nut Free is our favorite, we love Hershey's and use it all of the time! They are a very trustworthy company. However, something to keep in mind around the holidays (starting now with Halloween approaching) is that the usual safe sizes and varieties might not be safe in the "holiday versions" which are starting to be put out on shelves now. Some that I have found in the past that have not been safe have been holiday kisses and mini chocolates. So check the labels very carefully. I like to stock up on these regular varieties now for Halloween.

Lindsay said...

Thank you for posting this! I've been using Hershey's cocoa powder safely, but I didn't know that the plain kisses and regular-sized chocolate bars were also safe. I really appreciate the information! :)

Anonymous said...

We use Hersheys too. I used the cocoa powder and the hersheys kisses. I have also used their baking chips. Vermont is also a favorite, espeically at holiday times.

Linda

jenny said...

Vermont Nut Free is one excellent company, and I sincerely thank them for making great and safe products. But one note, they are pricey, I can never buy them for a class party, for example. Especially if purchase in the summer time, with the cooler and extra shipping, they become rare treats.
Hershey is good, we use their chocolate syrups and since my daughter does not have tree nut allergy, we also like the cook n cream bars (it has a clear label that its made in the facility that process almond.)
Thank you Jenny, for the ongoing updates.

The Mindful Merchant said...

We are BIG fans of Vermont Nut Free chocolates. They are our special holiday chocolate of choice - totally worth the splurge. Here in Canada we have Nestle peanut-free chocolates. Smarties, Aero, Kit-Kat, Coffee Crisp are all peanut free. Hallowe'en is much easier with companies like that on board. I didn't know Hershey's is also nut-free now. Thanks.

Jenny said...

Hi Mindful Merchant,

Thanks for writing! Just to clarify for all my readers, Hershey's is not "nut-free" (that is, made in a nut-free facility) but they do offer some products that are safe for people with nut allergies.

I know that many of the things off-limits to us here in the U.S. (Nestle, for example) are made nut-free in Canada. I wish we could say the same thing in the US but so far major food companies are not always open to running dedicated lines for certain products.

Anonymous said...

I am always looking for "safe" candy for my severely peanut and egg allergic son. We recently discovered that Whoppers by Hershey were safe for him. Just wanted to pass it on. Great snack for class parties, it comes in individual snack sizes!

Jean said...

I have gotten two allergic reactions from Hersheys and there was no nut warning on the label. One was from a Hersheys bar and the other was from Hersheys Kisses. I have 9 food allergies and am active in food allergy causes that bring changes to things such as restaurants, airlines, etc. I haven't seen much talk about Hersheys being contaminated but I know what happened to me both times. Be very careful with Hersheys.

Jenny said...

Jean, I'm sorry you had two allergic reactions after eating Hershey's. Since you have 9 food allergies, is it possible the allergic reaction was to another food in the product? I hope you reported your reaction to Hershey--the people I've spoken with there are concerned that their labels are properly worded.

Thanks for weighing in. As I noted in my initial post, if you want to feel absolute security, go with a dedicated nut-free chocolatier like Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates.
That's a great choice.

Jean said...

I could have every ingredient in the products without a problem. Knock on wood, but I haven't developed any more food allergies in about four years, so there is nothing new that I am allergic to. I did report it. Also, after I commented, I had a conversation with my daughter and she reminded me that I also had a reaction to the Hersheys chocolate chip morsels. So that was three allergic reactions from Hersheys. Very, very odd because there were no nut warnings. I have to say that I am done with Hersheys.

Jenny said...

Glad you took the time to report the problem, Jean. Obviously everyone needs to avoid what is causing them a problem.

That's why I love Vermont Nut-Free and for those with dairy allergies, Enjoy Life or Divvies chips. That way you know that the risk is not there.

Anonymous said...

what would be great is if companies like nestle would ship their peanut free facility treats from Canada to the US. Seems simple and would increase US sales for them. Why do they accomodate Canadians with food allergies but not the U.S.??

Linda

sarah said...

Is the hersheys caramel kisses or cookies in cream nut free they are my sons favorite but i don't want to send something With nuts to his school. Can i please have some help. I've read the labels very well please help

sarah said...

Oh i forgot to mention im in Canada if that helps

Jenny said...

Hi Sarah, I always tell people to call the company if you've read the label and still aren't sure. Things change all the time with manufacturing and Canada may have different facilities. I know from my own conversations regarding chocolates available in the U.S. that they will mark for allergens even if there is only a cross-contact risk. If there is any risk, they will say so with a "may contains" or "processed with" statement. Hope that helps!

creativecaterpillar said...

I also love Vermont Nut Free and it's always my #1 choice. Enjoy life is great because it's become more available locally to me (US- NY). I'm excited to hear, however, that Hershey's marks for "may contains"! It's always nice to know either that it's safe for me, or even just the people around me to feel safe eating something new!
Has anyone heard of or used Grenada Chocolate Company? Someone recently sent me their website, and they claim nut-free (and operate on fair-trade standards, from what I understand). I'm always suspicious until I'm convinced a company understands the risk and REALLY is nut free. I'd love to hear if anyone has any experience with this company. Thank you!

Marianna said...

Thanks so much for the info - I've been looking for a list like this! Just wanted to point out that my son, who is allergic to eggs and peanuts/tree nuts cannot have York peppermint patties because they do contain eggs as well. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

For the record Rolos are also made in a nut-free facility and they are my son's favorite!

Anonymous said...

I spoke to a Hershey's rep today, and currently they advise to avoid the individually wrapped Kisses when the package info is unavailable. Apparently they are made in different facilities, and so each location will label their packages accordingly. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I run a small home-based bakery for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. I spoke with Hershey today regarding their unsweetened cocoa powder. The representative told me that it is made on a dedicated peanut-free, tree nut-free line, and that it is made in a peanut-free, tree nut-free facility. However, they refuse to put it in writing (e.g. email it to me), so that I can keep it on hand to show any of my concerned customers. Therefore, I can't use this product. Makes me wonder, if they won't put it in writing...

Jenny said...

Thanks to everyone who commented on this post! Regarding the small baking business owner's experience, that is frustrating. I believe that the cocoa powder is safe and I have used it for 9 years without problems. As to why they won't put it in writing for you--I'm only guessing here--I think their web site states that facilities may change. So maybe they fear giving out a guarantee and then having it change in 6 months or even 2 years and putting people at risk. These big companies do tend to change facilities from time to time. Another thing is that (and I don't know that this is true with this company) many companies do not yet understand what a driving consumer force is behind a label that says "nut-free facility." They are still learning. So let's keep contacting them/telling them our concerns. It does help! Thanks again to all who have responded to this post.

Anonymous said...

Just discovered Laura Secord offers peanut free chocolate bars and baking chocolate. The chocolate chips were just over $3.00/bag, and a the large chocolate bar was 4 for $9.00. We just discovered our 3year old is allergic to peanuts / tree nuts, it amazes me how many things "may contain nuts". Orange juice, really?

Carmen V said...

On Hershey's not putting it into writing for baking business:
Even with practices changing, that can be included in writing from Hershey's. Nabisco responded via e-mail that their product is currently safe but to keep checking back to insure that manufacturing practices haven't changed. It is peculiar why Hershey's wouldn't be willing to do something to that effect.
Also, if you don't already know about it: snacksafely.com is a great site that has a snack safely guide with some manufacturers that tell them of their practices to ensure they are free of allergins. I check several places, but the best thing I've done is to call a company directly and then get what I can sent via e-mail to have it in writing. Sounds a bit exessive, but I feel it's better to be very safe than sorry.