(KXNET) — Spring holidays are getting closer, and stores will soon be filled with popular Easter and Passover-themed sweets — but you need to be careful, as these sweet treats could have chemicals that are harmful to your health.
According to a news release from consumer organization the Environmental Working Group, dyes and other ingredients used in these colorful candies have been linked to health problems such as behavioral difficulties in kids, damage to DNA, and even cancer. These dyes and ingredients can be found in brands like Peeps Marshmallow Chicks and Streit’s Mini Fruit Slices.
Many believe that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should do more to keep the chemicals out of treats — but without any federal action being taken, states are thinking about putting bans in place on certain food chemicals.
The EWG has stated that they intend to co-sponsor Bill AB-418 — the first bill of its kind — in California, which would ban five toxic chemicals from food. However, until the bill is passed (and furthermore, spreads to other states, including our own), it’s a good idea to learn more about what harmful substances could be in your candy — and how you can avoid them.
Artificial Food Dyes
One food dye that is always troubling is Red Dye No. 3, which can be found in Easter and Passover candies like Peeps Decorated Eggs Marshmallow, Brach’s Candy Jelly Bird Eggs, and Streit’s Jordan Almonds, and even in Easter Egg decorating dyes like McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye. There have been studies done that show that red dye No. 3 causes cancer in animals, and has been associated with adverse behavioral changes in children.
Another food dye is Yellow Dye No. 5, which is used to color Peep Marshmallow Chicks — and has also been suggested to have adverse effects on activity and attention in children. Some kids could be sensitive to artificial dyes, and show behavioral difficulties like lower attentiveness, after exposure to as low as one milligram of the substance.
Titanium dioxide can enhance the color of candy and is used in treats like Skittles Original Easter Candy Impossible Egg Hunt, Passover Assorted Jelly Fruit Slices, Streit’s Apple Honey Fruit Slices, and Galerie Happy Easter Dispenser with Candy Pieces. The European Food Safety Authority said that titanium dioxide is “no longer safe” for human consumption.
If you prefer chocolate as an Easter and Passover treat, you might be in for an unfortunate spring surprise. In a recent study from Consumer Reports, they tested 28 chocolate bars and found harmful heavy metals and cadmium in dark chocolate from Dove and Hershey’s. To reduce any exposure, you could choose dark chocolates with lower levels of heavy metals, and think of chocolate as an occasional treat.
These facts may make you worried about indulging in sweet seasonal treats — but there are ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without dipping into these dangerous dyes and other bad ingredients. When you go shopping, you can check food labels to avoid artificial colors and other food additives. One good piece of advice is to choose packaged foods that are certified organic — as they need to meet strong, strict standards that protect people from exposure to harmful food additives.
Concerned individuals can also check EWG’s Food Scores database to find candy with harmful chemicals.