Nestlé Drops Artificial Ingredients in UK Candy – Why Not Here?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on April 11, 2012

While the blog was dominated by LFTB last month, many interesting “kid and food” news items came and went without coverage here.  I won’t try to recapture most of these for you, but a few are important enough that I want to share them now, even if they’re a little dated.  Here are two such items:

Nestlé UK Drops All Artificial Food Additives – Why Not Here?

candy question mark

If they can do it in Europe, why not here?

Nestlé announced last month that it’s discontinuing in the UK the use of all artificial food additives —  preservatives, flavors and food dyes — from its entire confectionery line.

That’s great news, but what about here in the U.S.?

Well, I called Nestlé USA customer service this morning and was read a canned statement assuring me that all the artificial ingredients used by Nestlé in this country are “safe and FDA approved.” I was also told that “no changes of this kind are planned for the U.S. market at this time.”

How frustrating is this?  A huge conglomerate has demonstrated it can replace artificial ingredients with those derived from natural sources such as “carrot, hibiscus, radish, safflower and lemon.”  Yet Nestlé and others companies continue to sell our children candy with ingredients that were found by an FDA expert panel to be implicated in behavioral disorders in some children.  (Robyn McCord O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth, once guest posted here on that exact question, a post well worth reading if you missed it the first time around.)

I’m all “petitioned” out, people, but if someone wants to get the ball rolling on a campaign to get Nestlé and other big candy companies to bring their all-natural EU formulations over to America, I’ll be the first to sign.

Chewing Gum, Titanium Dioxide and Possible Disease Risk in Children

On a related note, a recent study assessed the risks of titanium dioxide, a food additive used to make the hard white coating on chewing gum and other candies and therefore consumed by children more often than adults.  According to the study, titanium dioxide is “possibly carcinogenic” and has been implicated in Crohn’s disease and asthma.  It’s important to note that none of those links are conclusive, but still, why risk it?  I’ve told my kids (sometime gum-chewers) that from now on we’re buying gum in sticks rather than in “Chiclet” form.

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Now seems like a very good time to remind everyone of the awesome online Natural Candy Store, a great website for sweets without any questionable ingredients.

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Amateur Mommy April 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

My bet is that they aren’t changing the ingredients here b/c they can get away with it. Just look at some of the responses that were stated on this blog in response to ‘Pink Slime’. Many people in this country will make any excuse or make any statement to just accept the crap that they put in their body, in my opinion. Surely someone will say “It didn’t kill me, it won’t kill my kids.” and will let things continue to slide down that slippery slope.

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Bettina Elias Siegel April 11, 2012 at 11:17 am

I hear you. Yet seeing them do it abroad and not here is especially maddening, isn’t it?.

I once bought a jar of fancy cherry jam, made in Europe, and it had TWO ingredient lists, once for Europe, one here, and of course ours had the Red Dye # whatever and the European list had beet juice. GRRRRR.

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P Reis April 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

Ah, I just posted a similar response on the FB page! It’s so true. People choose to be in denial. I know it can be scary to confront the possibility that what you’ve been putting in your body might make you sick or at least less healthy than you should be. Even being aware, I still have a hard time staying away from some things, like junky candy (ugh!) But for people to pretend there’s no issue whatsoever is infuriating. As long as we buy this junk, it will be on the shelves. Well, this may be the push I need to stop buying those junky sweets!

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Alissa April 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm

So frustrating! I had a meeting earlier this morning at my daughter’s school where one of our objectives was to reduce the amount of food dyes in the snacks given to the preschoolers…I think one of the most convincing arguments we made was that these dyes are banned in Europe, so clearly there’s some real evidence that they are harmful! The fact that the message gets buried here is infuriating…we wouldn’t have to battle with the school about this if the government would do its job!

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jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal April 12, 2012 at 8:53 am

i would sign a petition asking nestle to remove artificial colors and ingredients from candy. Changes like this happen in Europe because consumers demand it. as soon as demand is strong enough here, changes will be made here. We did just witness what happened when american consumers wanted to know what was in their ground beef. maybe now that the media saw what happened when beef processing practices were nationally reported (people tuned in), more will share stories like this on national news. i can only hope!!

it is so maddening that a MFG that produces products for more than one country will maintain two separate production lines one spitting out less-chemically tainted products and one with chemically tainted crap. why, for the health of the world’s citizens, when the changes have ALREADY BEEN IDENTIFIED AND IMPLEMENTED, would these businesses keep peddling toxic crap. i. just. don’t. get. it. profits i know. but do they think americans will stop buying candy even if it isn’t brightly colored? or we will simply stop eating cheetos if they contained less artificial ingredients. or coke would sell less soda if they changed their caramel coloring additive? people still want to eat fun, convenient, tasty snacks. just make it less toxic. please.

this is a bad business strategy in my opinion. what the businesses who use toxic additives in their products are doing is giving the consumer no choice but to completely avoid their class of product. sure, some folks can source alternative products online or in the “natural” section of the store, but the majority of consumers purchase from the traditional grocery store, where most of the toxic free products are not sold.

there is a generation of kids growing up that is learning to “devalue” snack food because of it’s toxicity, not necessarily because of it’s “junkness.” These food items won’t be at family picnics, celebrations, in the lunch box. they won’t be part of the food culture their parents teach them is “normal”. Instead of keeping those consumers eating their products by removing offending toxic ingredients, food MFGs are losing consumers who reject processed food as the only way to avoid the toxic additives.

thanks for the link about the gum study. i’m always mystified by our culture’s gum habit. i see so many families who won’t give their kids artificial ingredients or sweeteners in food, but offer gum sweetened with artificial sweeteners. is it because gum isn’t swallowed? don’t parents know that most of the “flavoring” in gum including all the chemicals and artificial sweeteners is swallowed as the gum mixes with saliva? the gum base is not swallowed, but a lot of the ingredients added to it are liberated by saliva and are ingested. it is very hard to find a gum off the shelf that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners in it.

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Truth Seeker April 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

LFTB should be in a headlines as the smear campaign still continues. The lies have taken over and ruined a fine product. As for dyes and artificial flavors. I agree they need to be out of all foods not just including candy. Has there any studies been done of what the long term effects are of them? Also in what combinations? A can of diet soda plus a fat free snack combined has that been tested? Really I’m for real nature food not altered crap companies try and push off as food.

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fred fraenkel April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

We are all responsible for the unintended consequences of our actions You have caused hundreds of families their livelihoods. Children will go hungry because of your “cleverly” picking the name pink slime. Live with the guilt ….you own it

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SuperMom101 April 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

Here’s another signature!

Robyn’s book, Unhealthy Truth, is riveting and I find it truly compelling that “the U.K. branches of Wal-Mart, Kraft , Coca-Cola, and the Mars candy company (who make M&M’s) have voluntarily removed artificial colors.”

p.s. to Fred Fraenkel – for my humble perspective – Bettina is very gracious to even allow your comment.

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet” – Shakespeare

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Amy April 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Bettina,
I wrote about the disparity in candies and other foodstuffs found in the UK and here in this posting: http://www.healthtwisty.blogspot.com/2010/11/dont-eat-oil.html

The graphic in the post (from the Center for Science in the Public Interest) is especially compelling because it points out the chemicals in US Nutrigrain bars vs those sold in the UK. Many parents consider Nutrigrain bars to be healthy snack foods, and are surprised to learn that they really are just chemical stew like so many other snack foods. Most (all) companies that sell candies in the UK use cleaner alternative for the SAME candies they sell in the US – Starbusts, chocolate, etc.

It makes me crazy.
Amy

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Caleb Bolander April 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Bettina-
Is your intwntion to drive the price of food products so sky high that more people in this country will be starving?

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Amy April 16, 2012 at 6:35 am

Caleb,
You bring up an interesting point. But it’s a bit of a red herring.
The companies that sell candies in other countries without artificial colorings or flavorings find a way to price those candies competitively with the candies you find in the US – even though the ingredients may be slightly (very slightly) more expensive. But I don’t think you were talking about candy when you mentioned people starving.

Yes, the economics of food are complicated. In the US, we have become caught in a cycle of subsidizing, and therefore creating artificially low prices, on cereal grains, at the expense of fruits and vegetables. I think places like The Lunch Tray are helping consumers realize the REAL price people pay for cheap food, in terms of health. With reference to the beef byproduct (aka pink slime) specifically, have you considered that cutting it out will encourage people to eat less meat all around? Study after study has shown that a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables and lean proteins (beans, chicken, etc) to be healthier than a meat-based diet. Also, stretching meat with filler is nothing new and does not have to be done with chemically treated gristle and connective tissue. My mother and grandmother could take a pound of hamburger, add in crackers or bread crumbs, some cut up vegetables and tomatoes and make a tasty meat loaf for pennies per serving. Our culture has moved away from that type of food economics into industrial food, which brings all sorts of bacteria and chemicals into the equation.

Just my 2 cents,
Amy

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Smart Consumer April 16, 2012 at 2:07 am

Thank you for “cleverly” picking the name pink slime. And thank you for owning it. Your actions have caused me to save my kids from cancerous pink slime and have spared hundreds of families a very expensive health care cost…children will now be hungary for their fruits and vegetables and for being healthy, again! I hope you can sleep at night knowing you are saving the lives of americans – that’s a lot of guilt.

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Babyfoodsteps April 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

This topic could not be MORE NEAR AND DEAR to my heart…as I have a daughter (and a son) who get sick when they eat these artificial colors (and in my daughter’s case she gets sick when she eats the naturally occurring ones also)…

Unfortunately, there are many many other children who are sick due in part to what they are eating. Here is my research on how these colors may be harming all of us but especially those with metabolic disorders, like mitochondrial disease:
http://babyfoodsteps.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/mitoxic-why-eating-artificial-colors-may-not-be-good-for-any-of-us-especially-mitochondrial-disease-patients/

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Haeley April 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm
Joanne May 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

*Disregard prior, duplicate, post, as I’ve ammeded this post due to typing mistakes*

While I can understand people having health concerns, I think this whole healthifying of junk food in the UK is riddiculous! It IS junk food, for Christ sake. It is not supposed to be bloody healthy. Or else it is pretty pointless. Whilst, yes, the UK has removed all artificial colours and additives in confectionary like Nestlé and Mars, and may I also remind you that none of this was even based ACTUAL FACTUAL and CONCLUSIVE evidence, so, too, has this increased the prices and ruined the taste and texture of foods I used to enjoy as a kid. Hence I now try to get imported confectionary from the US. I compared a UK Snickers to an American one – the difference was noticeable, not only on the ingredients list (UK all bloody natural, the States version contains hydrogenated fat and artificial flavour), but most certainly in the taste and texture; after a few bites of the UK one I had had enough, yet in eating the US one I got that enjoyable taste I remembered as a kid, and was easily able to finish it. It was, without a doubt, moreish – the UK one was totally not! It, and pretty much all major brand snacks and confectionary over here now, just lack that once moreish taste they used to have. The same products made in the US do not!

At the end of the day, unless these ingredients are outright lethal or poisonous (again, there is no conclusive evidence at all, hence the FDA in the US not taking any action – because they actually have more common sense than the mugs of the UK who rely on scaremongering food fascists and stupid health organisations, using media hype and ‘junk science’), if they are consumed in moderation they are not going to harm you. I mean I grew up with these treats, before the UK went health mad, and I am not suffering any ill-effects, and neither are people I grew up with! We must remember, that all this removing of the additives from the UK foods was entirely based upon a voluntary arrangment; again, if there was proper scientic evidence, this would have been enforced, and no doubt so would the FDA have taken action by now.
And even if there was the slightest link between additives and things like hyperactivity, chances are that it would take comsuming one hell of a lot of these ingredients, which no sane person would consume.

I am very much for consumer freedom, and the Government not interfering in lifestyle choices such as junk food. It is like alcohol and cigarettes – we all know that they are not great for health, but we don’t see them being taken off the shelves! And again, even things like alcohol, in moderation, never killed anyone! It really is all about bloody common sense! I wish the UK would get a flaming grip and stop treating the consumer like they are four years old and incapable of making informed choices. If you don’t want additives, don’t buy bloody Mars bars! There are plenty of healthy options, so why should those of us who do not give a damn, and like to occasionally indulge in the ‘big bad foods’, have to compromise on taste, just because of some stupid food fascist, meddling Goverment, and moaning mothers wanting to shift the blame and responsibility onto food firms instead of acting like adults and being more responsible for what they shove into their kids? All you have to do is read the damn labels. Also, I would be inclined to believe that these children, who are said to have an adverse reaction to the additives, are more likely to perhaps have a sensitivity or intolerance – because they are not the majority! I’ve never experienced any effects as a kid and neither has anyone I know. It is like people who are lactose or gluten intolerant; you don’t see firms removing milk or bread from the shelves, lol! You see variants such as gluten-free bread and lactose-free milk.
Kellogg’s were an example of the overreaction in this country because of a minority – they actually removed the nuts from their Honey Nut Loops, apparently because of nut allergy sufferers!!!! I mean, what ever next – nut-free Snickers bars? Or perhaps Kellogg’s will also remove the nuts from their Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, too!!! Kind leaves a pretty pointless product in the end! It is not like they don’t make a wide variety of bloody cereals without nuts! You might as well start removing the sugar from candy floss and make fish and chip shops grill their cod, add no batter, and bake their chips! I know that what I am saying will probably piss a lot of people on here off, as it seems like the UK is being painted as the Saint of countries for all this healthification, while the US is being made out to be the great evil, but I am totally on side with the US having that freedom of choice, because the FDA is not over the top like the FSA is over here! And even though many US consumers are moaning about this difference in permitting of additives, at least in the US you do have a flaming choice; if you don’t want additives, there are alternatives. Just read the labels. In UK that choice is taken away – it is ‘all natural/healthified’ versions, whether you like it or not. And although, yes, many might think that this can only be a good thing, I beg to differ! Because there are actually some of us who do not give a crap if that chocolate bar contains hydrogenated fat and artificial flavours etc, we want something, every now and again, that actually bloody tastes good. And removing said additives and trying to substitute with healthier alternative ingredients in things just does does not cut it! I’ve taste compared so many times, and there is a significant difference, without a doubt! Hence I don’t waste my money on the likes of UK versions of global products such as Starburst, Mars bar or Snickers since they changed the formula to accommodate this health craze. I get them imported from the US – not cheap, but considering that I do not live off junk food, but enjoy them as a treat, it is worth it for getting something that I can enjoy the taste of when I indulge!

Bottom line, moderation of everything, and it ain’t gonna kill you! For I’d rather live a life enjoying a bit of a naughty indulgence, every now and again, than being some sad over-cautious, cardboard munching health freak. The sheer boredom of it would kill me before any supposed health complaint because of additives would!

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Mary May 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I recently started buying British candy at Publix – it’s not just Nestle but other candies that do not use artificial flavors or colors like Robinson’s fruit jellies. I love the Candy Land licorice (uses real licorice and aniseed oil) which is much easier on my stomach compared to Twizzlers, which has me guzzling water an hour after eating. I should mention the British candy sold here in the states is more affordable than a bag of chocolate from CVS (about 5 bucks no less) without sacrificing quality ingredients.

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 12, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Mary: Good to know! There’s also a great site called the Natural Candy Store that sells dye-free candy. And, of course, there’s also Whole Foods. Thanks for your comment.

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