Imported American confectionary containing ingredients that aren’t authorised to be used in UK have been seized from shops in England.

Large quantities of American candy and drinks aimed at children that are not compliant, including those containing ingredients banned in this country, have been discovered in shops in England.

Trading Standards officers at Staffordshire County Council uncovered the items as part of a two-week-long operation to tackle the sales of unsafe imported foods, where food labelling is not in English and allergen ingredients have not been declared.

Over 50 shops and stores were inspected during the operation, with many unaware the products on sale contained ingredients banned in the UK. 3,378 items were seized with a street value of £8,500

The pilot project followed a number of incidents and intelligence received by the Food Standards Agency, who funded the operation.

Meanwhile, in Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Officers have seized banned American candy from a store in Nuneaton. The products seized included Jolly Rancher and Swedish Fish sweet confectionery and Mountain Dew canned drinks. All contained unauthorised additive ingredients. Sixty-six packets of sweets and 57 cans of drink were removed from shelves.

Illegal imported products, not manufactured for the UK market and already identified and seized as they contain unauthorised ingredients  include:

  • Mountain Dew canned and bottled drinks of many varieties
  • Marinda
  • Sunny D
  • Swedish Fish
  • Dubble Bubble
  • Jolly Rancher gummies and hard candy
  • Hot Tamales
  • Twizzlers
  • Lemonhead

The American imported items that have been seized contained the following unauthorised additives not manufactured for the UK market:

  • Brominated Vegetable oil (BVO)
  • E127, Erythrosine (shown on US products as Red 3) – this is allowed in cocktail cherries, but not in sweets
  • Mineral Oil
  • Bleached Flour

And the following, which are allowed in food but not in drinks:

  • Calcium disodium EDTA (E385)
  • Erythorbic acid (E315)

There is evidence that E127 or Erythrosine, which is shown on American products as Red 3 can contribute to triggering hyperactive behaviour especially in children and while it’s still allowed in cocktail cherries, it shouldn’t be in sweets.

Mineral oil carries the risk of contamination with other compounds, which in turn are capable of forming cancers.

Calcium disodium EDTA is allowed in food but not in drinks. In animal studies it’s caused adverse reproductive and developmental effects and in mice has been shown to contribute to cancer of the colon.

Additives are only authorised for use in the UK if they have been tested and proved to be safe for its intended use, in that particular type of food or drink; there is a justifiable technological need to use it; and its use does not mislead the consumer.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has also issued a serious warning to parents in the run up to Christmas.  Chief Executive John Herriman said: “The UK has high food standards but this very much relies on Trading Standards to help ensure what is on sale complies with the law.

It’s extremely worrying to learn that confectionary with child appeal is on sale in UK high streets, which could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer. Trading Standards work extremely hard to remove 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.  If shop owners are unsure of what items are safe to sell, they should contact their local Trading Standards service for support and advice.”

When consumers are checking whether the goods for sale are American imports or not, the easiest way is to look at how the weight is recorded.  In the UK we use grams and millilitres and in America it is fluid ounce and ounce.  If the labelling shows American weights, it is an import and the food labelling needs to be compliant with UK laws, with no unauthorised ingredients in the produce.