A few weeks ago Chris and I were discussing taking Brooks out trick-or-treating. We both agreed that we wanted to take him to a few houses. “You aren’t going to let him eat any of the candy anyway” he said. I didn’t respond because I was busy thinking. What’s in candy? Other than sugar, I really didn’t know. The next day I began my research. I started with my favorite- chocolate. I wish I could say that sugar is the worst offender. Some of the ingredients I’ve never heard of so that sparked further investigation. Let’s look at a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Here’s the list of ingredients:
|MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR; COCOA BUTTER; CHOCOLATE; NONFAT MILK; MILK FAT; LACTOSE; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER); PEANUTS; SUGAR; DEXTROSE; SALT; TBHQ (PRESERVATIVE)|
The list starts out as expected but then takes a turn. I’ve heard of soy lecithin before but had no idea of what it is. According to LiveStrong, “In 2007, the GMO Compass reported that soy lecithin, like many food products in American supermarkets, contained genetically modified soy.” Of further concern, “A compound of soy lecithin, phytoestrogen, can produce effects on the body similar to the hormone estrogen. Soy phytoestrogens may promote an increased risk of breast cancer in adult women by altering or decreasing natural estrogen.” Finally to top it off, “Soy and soy lecithin contain a compound called fenistein that may have a negative effect on fertility and reproduction.” Yikes.
Next on the list is PGPR. PGPR is used as an emulsifier. According to a study published in 1998, the acceptable daily intake for PGPR is 7.5 mg/kg body weight/day. What happens when you consume above the recommended amount of PGPR? Well several studies have shown that the livers in rats become enlarged from high levels of PGPR (click here for the source). Being that Brooks’s only weighs about 11 kg, I was curious how many mg of PGPR are in each piece of candy. To get this information, I emailed and called Hersey’s. I was told over the phone that PGPR is added to the entire batch so they do not know how many mg are in each piece. The email I received said that the information is “proprietary” so they don’t disclose that information. Awesome.
Next of concern is TBHG, which as stated on the ingredient list is a preservative. According to LiveStrong, “The FDA has imposed a limit of up to 0.02 percent of the total oils in food to be TBHQ. Consuming 1 g of TBHQ could cause you to experience symptoms ranging from nausea to collapse, while 5 g is a lethal dose.” Luckily TBHQ apparently does not build up in the body over time. I would imagine that a very small amount of TBHG is in each piece of candy; however, I asked this question when I inquired about PGPR and again was told that it’s “proprietary” information.
I won’t bore you all with each ingredient in each kind of candy on the market, but some other ingredients of concern are “artificial flavors”, corn syrup, and the dreaded food dyes (any color followed by a number). According to ABC News, blue # 1, blue #2, yellow # 5, yellow #6, and red # 40 are all banned outside of the U.S. Three of these food dyes are in M&M’s.
I don’t mean to be the Grinch who stole Halloween. The most alarming part of all of this is that other countries don’t allow all of this crap to be added to their food and therefore, they get better products. If you google Kit Kat UK, you’ll find a totally different site with the following information: “No artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives.” According to the Business Insider, “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups sold overseas have just one difference from those sold in the U.S.- they don’t contain a type of preservative called tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ.”
I’m sorry but WTF? Why is okay for these American companies to be polluting our candy but sending a superior product overseas? The reason is because our government and us, as consumers, are allowing it to happen. Enough is enough.
As for Brooks’s Halloween this year, I did a bit of research and found a candy called Unreal. All of their products have no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, and are non-GMO. Yes, they are expensive, but I know it’s a better choice for my family.