With Halloween upon us, it’s unlikely that many Americans will survive the night without giving in to at least some of the sugary, sour, and finger-licking sweets that now line supermarkets’ shelves. According to the National Retail Federation’s estimate, consumers are spending nearly $7 billion this year on costumes, candy, and decorations, and the sweet treats sure aren’t going to eat themselves.
However, when you do choose to dip your hand into the candy bowl, you may want to be a little more selective about what you feed yourself and your kids, as an increasing numbers of reports show that the ingredients in our favorite treats aren’t as mouthwatering as we might hope.
Last year, The Huffington Post ran an article about the scary ingredients lurking in our candy, but this time around, we’re doing research what candy brands you should avoid if you want to sidestep the creepy labels. From “sheep sweat” to bug secretions to beaver gland extract, this list could ruin just about any candy lover’s appetite. Nonetheless, here are six kinds of candy to steer clear of this Halloween if you’re trying to avoid skin-crawling ingredients.
This peanut-buttery treat is a hard one for many chocolate lovers to avoid, but not only does Nestle’s Butterfinger pack on the fat and sugar, it also uses a petroleum-derived form of butane as a food preservative. Close inspection of the Butterfinger ingredient label will highlight that tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, lurks in these sweet treats, and the preservative has actually been ruled lethal in quantities of 5 grams or more.
These days, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules that TBHQ can’t make up more than 0.02 percent of the total oil or fat content in food, but if you want to play it extra safe, step away from that Butterfinger bar.
2. Nerds, Good & Plenty
Not a chocolate lover? Unfortunately, the creepy ingredients don’t limit themselves to cocoa labels. You may want to avoid candies like Nerds and Good & Plenty as well, because The Huffington Post reports that carmine — a food dye made from crushed, dried, and boiled beetles – is in these sweet treats.
According to The Huffington Post, the cochineal beetle creates a red dye that is employed in the coloring of candies like Nerds, Good & Plenty, and more, and consumers have even complained of allergic reactions to the additives made from these bugs.
3. Candy corn, Starburst, candy worms
Uh oh. This one hits home for many, because nothing rings in the Halloween season like a big bowl of candy corn. Unfortunately, the treat not only has a sugary yet addictive unnatural taste, it also contains gelatin, a thickening agent made from protein collagen. This ingredient may seem like one of the most inoffensive on the list, but considering that protein collagen is extracted from animal skin and bones, many vegetarians may now want to steer away from candy that uses gelatin — including candy corn, Starburst, candy worms, and many other sugary treats.
4. Bubble gum
You’re also not safe even if you only dip into the gum department on October 31. Unfortunately, there is something rather unsavory lurking in many chewing gums, and it is known as lanolin.
Lanolin is a term for the oil sheep produce in their wool, also known as “sheep sweat,” and the oily secretion is commonly used as softeners in foods. You likely won’t find lanolin on a gum’s ingredient list, but if you see “gum base,” that can also be interchanged for “sheep sweat.”
Lanolin is also used heavily in many beauty products.
5. Jelly beans
This next candy is sometimes thought of as more of an Easter treat, but many neighbors still pass out jelly bean fun packs to trick-or-treaters, and in doing so, are actually giving them candy with a shiny coating that is made from the secretions of a bug.
The Huffington Post says that shellac is the sticky substance responsible for giving jelly beans that shiny glaze, and if you look on jelly beans’ ingredient list, you’ll see an ingredient titled “confectioner’s glaze” to prove it.
6. Haribo gummy candy
Luckily, this old-fashioned candy is more likely to enjoyed by neighbors passing out the goods rather than the kids themselves, but all Haribo lovers should understand what exactly is going into the “natural flavor” of their favorite berry sweets.
Castoreum is a secretion from the anal glands of beavers that is often found in berry and vanilla flavoring, but it is allowed to be listed as “natural flavoring” because anything derived from plants or animals can be deemed natural. The Food and Drug Administration deems it safe, but many consumers still get goosebumps when they realize that castoreum flavors many candies, drinks, and desserts.
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