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The Scariest Part About Halloween…Candy!

Halloween is upon us and you know what that means? Candy! Candy is definitely the scariest thing about Halloween and for good reason! While it may be tempting to let yourself, or worse your kids, gobble down all those tasty treats, you may want to think twice. This year is as good as any to face the facts about the real dark side of Halloween: Candy.


There are many harmful ingredients in candy but let’s start with one also commonly found in soap, toothpaste, deodorant, tampons, and too many other products to list here: Titanium Dioxide. In fact, the European Food Safety Authority has stated that Titanium Dioxide is not safe in food since multiple studies have shown that it is genotoxic, which means it can damage DNA and lead to Cancer.


According to the American Chemistry Council, titanium dioxide, or TiO2, sometimes referred to as E171, is an inorganic, solid substance used in a wide range of consumer goods including cosmetics, paint, plastic and food. Titanium Dioxide is a whitening agent that is actually banned from food use in Europe as it is an unnecessary additive. Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at the consumer health nonprofit Environmental Working Group, says titanium dioxide can generally be thought of as a “paint primer” – as it is often used in hard-shelled candy like Skittles in order to give it a “uniform shine.” Here in the United States, it is used quite often. 



In addition to Skittles, other candies that contain titanium dioxide include Nice mints, Trolli, Sour Gummies and Ring Pops.  In May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority announced that titanium dioxide “can no longer be considered safe as a food additive.”


France had previously banned the use of titanium dioxide in food starting in January 2020 following a lawsuit filed in July 2022 by a consumer who alleged that Skittles were “unfit for human consumption” because the rainbow candy contained a “known toxin” – an artificial color additive called titanium dioxide. Mars, the company that makes Skittles, announced in 2016 that they would begin phasing Titanium Dioxide out of Skittles, yet is still being used to this day. Thus, still ends up in your child’s Halloween basket year after year. 


Other spooky ingredients like TBHQ and PGPR, found in favorites like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s chocolate bars and Snickers, are equally controversial. TBHQ is an additive to preserve processed foods. It acts as an antioxidant, but unlike the healthy antioxidants you find in fruits and vegetables, this antioxidant has a controversial reputation. TBHQ is used in fats, including vegetable oils and animal fats. Many processed foods contain some fats, so it’s found in a wide range of products — for example, snack crackers, noodles, and fast and frozen foods. It is used in its highest concentration in frozen fish products. But food isn’t the only place you’ll find TBHQ. It’s also included in paints, varnishes, and skin care products.


According to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a well-designed government study found that this additive increased the incidence of tumors in rats. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), cases of vision disturbances have been reported when humans consume TBHQ. This organization also cites studies that have found TBHQ to cause liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis in laboratory animals. Some believe BHA and TBHQ also affect human behavior. Due to this, it has landed on the “do not consume” list of the Feingold Diet, a dietary approach to managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Advocates of this diet say that those who struggle with their behavior should avoid TBHQ.


Another harmful ingredient that should send you running for the hills is the omnipresent high fructose corn syrup, derived from GMO corn and thus contaminated with the deadly and controversial pesticide, Glyphosate. 


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many mysterious ingredients lurking in Halloween candy as well as your makeup, personal care items and even cleaning products.


You and your family deserve to know what these ingredients are so you can avoid them out of an abundance of caution. Do you remember that old wise tale about a vampire needing permission to enter your home? This should also be applied to Halloween candy. Leave it outside, it’s too scary!



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Grantham-Philips, W. (2022, July 26). Skittles was sued for containing titanium dioxide. plenty of other products have it too. USA Today. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from 

Katherine Zeratsky, R. D. (2020, September 12). What the research says about high-fructose corn syrup. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from 

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