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Say No To Nano Tricks In Our Treats, Please!

October 27th, 2016
By: Courtney Sexton
Center for Food Safety

Halloween is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for goblins and ghouls and trick-or-treating fun! What it shouldn’t mean is worrying over whether or not we’re being tricked by candy producers into buying and eating potentially toxic treats…

Nanotechnology is a powerful new tool for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the molecular level – and it has some scary repercussions when used in food products. Nano-scale materials are really small, highly reactive particles that can pass through the body’s blood-brain barrier to places in the human body that other materials can’t, and cause more damage when they do. Scientists agree that nanomaterials create novel food safety risks that require toxicity testing, yet very little testing and regulation of these new products exists, and consumers have almost no information.

So what does that mean for you or your little ghoul on Halloween? Well, for example, titanium dioxide, one of the most common engineered nanomaterials, is often found in candy (it’s used as a whitener, an anti-caking agent, a “shine” agent, and for texture) – and studies show it can cause pathological lesions of the liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain; lung tumors; and inflammation, cell necrosis, and dysfunction in the kidney.

We at CFS are working to get the government to adopt stronger regulations for nanotechnology, especially when it comes to applications in our food supply. And we recently received word that MARS Corp. (the top-selling candy company in the world) has committed to removing titanium dioxide from its products over the next five years – which is great news. But in the meantime, we want you to enjoy a Halloween without any nano tricks in your treats! That’s why we created this simple guide to help you say no to nano ingredients in candy this Halloween.

1. Avoid products that do or could contain nano: CFS has an interactive database that shows common food products containing nanomaterials, including popular gums and candies. While there are many brands of candy believed to contain nano ingredients, these brands have been tested1,2 and confirmed to contain them: M&Ms, Skittles, Eclipse gum, Allen's Kool Mints, Dentyne gum, Trident gum, Mentos, and Good and Plenty.

2. Look for delicious, healthy, environmentally and socially conscious alternatives: While fruit and healthy options won’t always make you the most popular house on the block for trick-or-treaters, they are a good place to start. Other options like, fair trade chocolates or other organic candies will make your house the place to stop, and won’t have any nanomaterials. Organic foods are not allowed to contain nano ingredients, so your best bet to avoid nano ingredients is to look for organic candies like Endangered Species Chocolate Bug Bites; YummyEarth Organic Lollipops; Surf Sweets Spooky Spiders, Sour Worms, and organic jelly beans; Equal Exchange Chocolates; Go Organic Hard Candies; Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups; Amy’s Organic Candy Bites; Mini Ocho Organic Candy Bars; and Theo’s Kids’ Crunch organic candy bars.

3. Take action: Sign our petition to MARS, the top selling candy company in the world, urging them to commit to speed up the removal of titanium dioxide and to remove all other nano ingredients in their candies!

Happy (and healthy) haunting!!



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