Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What's in that Halloween candy--no, not razor blades

Charles Platkin, PhD, executive director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College and editor of, looks at the ingredients of Halloween candy.

CANDY CORN. This stuff  has been around 100 yrs. First ingredient: Sugar. But not high fructose corn syrup.  But these waxy little treats also contain "confectioner's glaze"--This is "lac resin"--a secretion of the lac bug. Yes, a bug...or larvae of a bug. Basically, this is edible shellac. Candy corn also contains gelatin (made from animal hides and bones).

Now to the flavoring. In candy corn, it's artificial. This means it has been "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA. Yellow 6 can cause allergic reactions. Same for Yellow 5--esp to people with aspirin issues. Red 3 has been known to cause thyroid tumors in rats and has been replaced in many items by Red 40.

SMARTIES. Dextrose, calcium stearate, citric acid, and dyes. Dextrose is sugar. Calcium stearate  is a fatty acid that appears in almost all fats.  The dyes are "lakes," a term for dye used in fatty foods--to be avoided. Blue 2 (LAKE) may cause brain cancer in rats--though the FDA says there is "reasonable certainty of no harm."

That is just two. Am I being a big buzzkill? All the more reason, I say, to give the tots chocolate...and lots of it.

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