Skip to content

Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

Back to table


How ethical is Starburst?

Starburst is a brand owned by Mars Inc. which has a below-benchmark score on The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Sweets Ratings Table. Although Starburst has not yet met our ethical benchmark, we hope to see the brand make progress in the future.

We would have extra confidence in Starburst if it submitted itself to apply for Ethical Accreditation, whereby The Good Shopping Guide would make further detailed assessment and recommendations for ethical improvement.

Find out more about the ethical issues facing the Sweets sector and see how other brands score in our Ethical Sweets Ratings Table.

What does Starburst do?

Starburst was originally introduced in the UK under the name ‘Opal Fruits’ in 1960, by The Wrigley Company. The sweets are square shaped chewy candies individually wrapped and sold in a ‘tube’. The old name was phased out in 1998 in order to standardise the brand globally. Wrigley was acquired by Mars Inc in 2008.

In which areas does Starburst perform poorly?

Starburst was marked down under our criteria for GMO as its parent company, Mars Inc, states that it believes GMO ingredients are safe to use. Mars Inc continues to fund animal testing and is under pressure from PETA to change its stance.

Mars Inc donated over $515K in recent election cycles which is above our threshold, so Starburst gets a poor rating for this criterion.

Find out more about how we rate by exploring our ethical criteria.

Past Criticisms of Starburst’s record

Starburst’s parent company, Mars Inc, received a ‘D’ rating in Rainforest Action Network’s 2022 report which assessed brands on their efforts to address their part in deforestation. This was also flagged in a report by Mighty Earth in the same year, which stated that Mars Inc had not made good on its previously stated commitments to end deforestation in West Africa.

In 2021, a report from As You Sow gave Mars Inc a poor score of 6 out of 27 for risks associated with synthetic pesticides in agricultural supply chains.

In which areas does Starburst score well for its ethics?

Starburst’s parent company, Mars Inc, has a Sustainability Plan with targets for carbon emissions, water and packaging, which also includes evidence of progress. The Mars Inc website also presents additional targets on its ‘Building a Healthy Planet’ section, so Skittles gets a good score for its Environmental Report.

Starburst has certification from The Vegan Society, giving it a high score for our Vegetarian and Vegan criteria.

We found no criticisms of Starburst relating to Nuclear,  Fossil Fuels or Armaments so it scores well for these criteria.

How can Starburst improve its ethical rating?

The below-benchmark score that Starburst is awarded on The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Sweets Ratings Table is the result of an evaluation of multiple ethical criteria.

To reach our minimum ethical benchmark and qualify for Ethical Accreditation, Starburst has some issues to resolve, including  its use of GMO ingredients, and support for animal testing. If it applies for Ethical Accreditation, The Good Shopping Guide will be able to give Starburst some guidance to improve on these areas.

Were you aware that your brand could benefit from Ethical Accreditation? Brands accredited by The Good Shopping Guide can display our Ethical Mark, showcasing to consumers that it is an ethical and sustainable brand.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to attain Ethical Accreditation, please contact us or complete a Free Initial Assessment form.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Nuclear Power


  • Fossil Fuels


  • Palm Oil Free



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegetarian/Vegan Verified



  • Armaments


  • Political Donations



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


  • Public Record Criticisms+


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating