What’s In My Food: Skittles Ingredients Label Explained


Reading the ingredient list on your food label and knowing what they are, are two different things. For example: Do you know what the ingredients BHT, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, blue 1, and phosphoric acid are? Well you should, since you are consuming them on a daily basis. One's use is banned in restaurants. Another is mined from the earth. And the Other two are made from petroleum.

Can you imagine what these ingredients are doing to your body? Well don't imagine. Know. Educate yourself. Read on to learn exactly what your food is made of, and what it’s doing to your health.

In all products, ingredients must be listed according to their relative weight. The listing of each ingredient is in a descending order of predominance.

Skittles’ ingredients are: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, apple juice from concentrate, less than 2% - citric acid, dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, coloring (includes yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2 lake, yellow 5, red 40, yellow 6, blue 1 lake, blue 1), ascorbic acid (vitamin c).


1. Sugar: A sweetening additive. Made mainly from sugar cane and sugar beet.

Health effects: Safe if eaten in small amounts. Consumption of large amounts over time has been linked to tooth decay, periodontal disease, obesity, hyperactivity, B vitamin deficiencies, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

2. Corn syrup: Sweet syrup made from corn starch treated with acid or enzymes.

Health effects: May cause allergic reactions.

3. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil: (Trans fat) Polyunsaturated vegetable oil that has been partially converted to saturated oil in order to create a solid or semi-solid substance. Use is banned in restaurants across the USA.

Health effects: Linked to Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, liver dysfunction, and infertility in women.

4. Citric acid: A weak organic acid used as a flavoring agent and a preservative. Extracted from citrus fruits or made by fermentation of yeast or mold. May contain MSG. May be genetically modified.

Health effects: If MSG sensitive, may provoke symptoms.

5. Dextrin: A Thickener and foam stabilizer made from wheat or corn starch.

Health effects: Allergic reaction in some people, should be avoided by those with celiac disease.

6. Modified corn starch: A thickening agent. Starch that has been chemically altered for specific food applications. May be genetically modified. Chemicals used for modification include, but are not limited to:

propylene oxide - a petroleum derivative

hydrochloric acid - a corrosive used to remove rust

succinic anhydride - used in paper production to strengthen paper

potassium hydroxide - used to make alkaline batteries

sodium hydroxide - chemical base used to make detergents, paper, and drain cleaners

Health effects: Since commonly used in baby foods, safety concerns have arisen due to the use of various chemicals in the making of modified food starch. Especially since babies are still developing and have little resistance to such chemicals. More testing required.

7. Natural flavors: Any flavor not chemically derived. Obtained by physical processes from plants or animals. Made to provide flavor to a food rather than nutritional value. May contain MSG.

Health effects: Unknown.Different foods use different natural flavors and processes. Naturally derived ingredients may be altered, rendered unsafe. It should be noted that the use of the word “natural flavors” is often used to mask the use of harmful, naturally derived flavors.

8. Artificial flavors: A synthetic mixture not found in nature, designed to mimic a natural flavor. May contain MSG. Over 1,700 artificial flavors are approved by the FDA.

Health effects: Unknown. Companies are not required to identify the various synthetic mixtures (1,700 to date) used in foods, requiring only that they be listed under the umbrella of the “artificial flavors” listing. Some individuals are sensitive to artificial flavors, experiencing headaches, nausea, and drowsiness, among other symptoms.

Artificial flavors sample list: benzyl isobutyrate, ethyl acetate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate (petroleum derivative), methyl benzoate (petroleum derivative), hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone. An artificial flavor may be made up of any number of synthetic chemicals.

9. Yellow 6 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining yellow 6 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: Known to cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.


10. Red 40 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining red 40 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: A suspected carcinogen. Has been linked to hyperactivity, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and lower IQs in children. Some scientists question its safety since all tests were conducted by the manufacturer instead of the regulator, the FDA. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

11. Yellow 5 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining yellow 5 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: Linked to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, asthma attacks, hives and hyperactivity. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive. When ingested, some aspirin sensitive patients have been reported to develop life threatening asthmatic symptoms. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

12. Blue 2 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining blue 2 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: Produces malignant tumors at the site of injection in rats. Possible effects include asthma, allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and heart problems, a skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tract irritant. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

13. Yellow 5: (known also as Tartrazine, E102) Coal tar derived artificial food coloring.

Health effects: Linked to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, asthma attacks, hives and hyperactivity. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive. When ingested, some aspirin sensitive patients have been reported to develop life threatening asthmatic symptoms

14. Red 40: (Known also as Allura Red AC, E129) Coal tar derived artificial food coloring.

Health effects: A suspected carcinogen. Has been linked to hyperactivity, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and lower IQs in children. Some scientists question its safety since all tests were conducted by the manufacturer instead of the regulator, the FDA.


15. Yellow 6: (Known also as Sunset Yellow FCF, E110) Coal tar derived artificial food coloring.

Health effects: Known to cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive.

16. Blue 1 lake: Pigment manufactured to make insoluble color. Done by combining blue 1 (a coal tar derivative) with a form of aluminum, calcium, barium potassium, strontium, or zirconium.

Health effects: Produces malignant tumors at the site of injection and by ingestion in rats. Possible effects include asthma, hives, hay fever, low blood pressure, allergic reactions. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive. May contain aluminum, which has been linked with lung & kidney disorders, and reduced skeletal mineralization. Alzheimer’s victims have been found with aluminum deposits in their brains, implicating aluminum as a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

17. Blue 1: (Known also as Brilliant Blue FCF, E133)Coal tar derived food coloring.

Health effects: Produces malignant tumors at the site of injection and by ingestion in rats. Possible effects include asthma, hives, hay fever, low blood pressure, allergic reactions. Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive.

18. Ascorbic acid: Vitamin C. A water soluble preservative and antioxidant. May be chemically synthesized.

Health effects: Considered safe.

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Comments 25 comments

Pirate ink 5 years ago

I'm so happy that Skittles became vegetarian friendly!!!! I haven't had a Skittles since I was 14!!


brenda48 5 years ago

If Skittles has become vegetarian friendly, why can I not find any Original which don't list gelatin as an ingredient?


The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 5 years ago from USA Author

All the skittles in my local stores don't use gelatin. Are you in the USA?


brenda48 5 years ago

I am in Canada. When I called the number on the package, I was told there was no gelatin in the skittles sold here, but as I said, I haven't been able to find any or iginal that don't list it as an ingr. My problem began when buying an xmas book pkg. of skittles for my grandchildren. The box stated gluten and gelatin free. Thankfully, the children, young as they are, checked the individual bags inside, and spotted the word, gelatin.I have never gotten an actual explanation of this, yet I notice the Easter ones are packaged the same way.


Brenda48 5 years ago

I am in Canada, and although the company assures me there is no gelatin in the product, it is listed on every pkg. of original skittles I have looked at. I certainly would not take the chance of giving them to my grandchildren


The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 5 years ago from USA Author

I'm in the Northeast. None of the skittles here have gelatin as an ingredient. Maybe it's a regional thing?


Fergui Pascual 5 years ago

But skittles get their coating from shellac which is an insect cocoon...."natural flavors"


Archangel35 5 years ago

thx so much!! that helped!


VEGGIE 5 years ago

I am so happy... I can eat Skittles... my brother refuses to leave me alone when it comes to my food choices


lex 5 years ago

i love this sight it was so helpful for school work and thanks


Curious Kids 4 years ago

Are you saying that gelatin is in Skittles or is it not in Skittles?


Melissa 4 years ago

I am a health teacher who is trying to take the non-traditional approach to teaching Nutrition. I want my students to really know what they are eating. Anyone have some good resources / website suggestions that I can use with teenagers to help them understand what they are eating and how it can impact their health? Thanks!


Dave 4 years ago

Dear Brenda, did you actually just write that you wouldn't consider giving your children skittles because they may contain gelatin. While at the same time understanding they do in fact contain multiple food coloring dyes that are proven to cause a myriad of health disorders, not to mention the literally zero nutritional benefit of this diabetes inducing junk food?

Where do you get your logic from?


Huh? 4 years ago

Did you all miss the "Natural Flavors"? Skittles are not vegetarian. And they are not human friendly.


Densie lee 4 years ago

my honey ate a bag of sour skittles last night and had a terrible reaction. he has a liver disorder and he was sick , felt hot and his whole body hurt and he felt sick..... this stuff is poison!


jada4152 4 years ago

skittles are good but not healthy at all if u eat 14 packages of them you would be lookin' like fat albert BTW im in Illinois


Dragonflie123 4 years ago

Skittles in the USA are now veggie friendly! Yay! I guess I'm a little late on the news....


The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 4 years ago from USA Author

Curious Kids

Read the ingredients. Apparently it depends on your location whether or not gelatin is used.


Emma 4 years ago

Good article, but I'm a bit worried about the fact that you listed more negative health effects for sugar than for corn syrup... sugar is natural and okay in small amounts (as you said); corn syrup is several kinds of unnatural (including being genetically modified) and even more kinds of dangerous to your health.

Also, citric acid is never extracted from citrus fruits for commercial use; it's made by fermentation of mold because it's what's cheapest. People with mold allergies can react to citric acid in foods!


Skithells 4 years ago

Vegetarian or not, WHO the f*ck would want to put a thing like that into your body. People, it's not food.


D-Man 3 years ago

Loving your articles dude, but you ned to post some new stuff.


The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 3 years ago from USA Author

Noted. Thanks


HELP! 3 years ago

science teacher is telling us to track what we are eating and find all the ingredients that come from living things and I just ate some skittles, half of the ingredients on the package I don't know what they are.

uhh I need so much help!!!


gigima 3 years ago

I puchased the plastic cany cane full of skittles ( code 6490042643)for my great grandson who has a severe nut allergy; your label does not list nuts but doesn't say made in a nut free factory. Is this product safe???


The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 2 years ago from USA Author

@gigima -

For those suffering severe nut allergy, I suggest staying away from processed packaged foods unless the packaging states "made in a nut free facility". Often times packaged processed foods are made in facilities that deal in foods containing nuts, soy, gluten, dairy, etc.

Better safe than sorry.

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