Warning issued over imported American candy with links to cancer

Confectionery, including Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Twizzlers, contain ingredients with known links to hyperactivity and cancer in children.

Trading Standards have issued a serious warning to parents this festive season around unauthorised ingredients contained in imported American sweets and fizzy drinks.

The imported confectionery, including Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Mountain Dew, contain ingredients with known links to hyperactivity and cancer in children.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warned that the products, often known as “American candy”, are growing in popularity in Britain due to social media. 

They are now widely available on UK high streets in dedicated stores and smaller convenience shops which have started stocking the items.

It said that some imported products like American confectionery might contain additives that aren’t authorised to be sold in the UK. 

Consumers that buy them could be at risk from a lack of allergy labelling, or the inclusion of ingredients that don’t meet high UK food safety standards.

The warning follows a number of incidents and intelligence received by the Food Standards Agency and a pilot project conducted by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team, which seized 3,378 items with a street value of £8,500 from local shops.

A number of confectionery items imported from America were seized, because they were not manufactured for the UK market as they contain unauthorised ingredients. 

Products included Mountain Dew, Sunny D, Swedish Fish, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers and Dubble Bubble.

The American imported items that have been seized contained the following unauthorised additives not manufactured for the UK market including brominated vegetable oil, mineral oil – which carries the risk of contamination with other compounds, which in turn are capable of forming cancers – and bleached flour.

E127, Erythrosine – shown on US products as Red 3 – is allowed in cocktail cherries, but not in sweets.

Other additives found require a disclaimer in the UK, stating that they can cause hyperactivity in children.

CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: “The UK prides itself on high food standards but this very much relies on Trading Standards ensuring that what is on sale complies with the law. It’s therefore extremely worrying to learn that as we approach Christmas confectionary that we know will appeal to children is on sale in UK high streets, and that it could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer. 

“Trading Standards work extremely hard to protect the public by removing dangerous products from sale, but the popularity of these items is being increased by videos on social media platforms, such as TikTok. The increase in demand means importers are sending these through our ports and borders in the millions, and these are then being widely distributed and ending up in retail stores and in the hands of children.

“We ask that all persons placing these products on the market, including the suppliers and retailers take their responsibilities seriously in this matter and urgently remove items from sale that contain unauthorised ingredients. We also urge parents to be aware. If shop owners are unsure of what items are safe to sell, they should contact their local Trading Standards service for support and advice.”

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