Trading Standards warning over US sweets with links to cancer made popular on TikTok

The seized sweets and drinks included Jolly Rancher and Mountain Dew

They are brands of iconic sweets and fizzy drinks familiar to any regular viewer of American films.

But now, Trading Standards has warned that imported American confectionery such as Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Mountain Dew have been found in the UK - containing illegal additives with links to hyperactivity and cancer in children.

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The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warned that the products, often known under the term “American Candy”, are growing in popularity in Britain due to social media. They are now widely available on UK high streets in dedicated stores and smaller convenience shops which have started stocking the items.

Trading Standards seized American candy containing ingredients banned in the UK.Trading Standards seized American candy containing ingredients banned in the UK.
Trading Standards seized American candy containing ingredients banned in the UK.

The CTSI said some of the imported products contain additives which are not authorised to be sold in the UK. Consumers that buy them could be at risk from a lack of allergy labelling, or from the inclusion of ingredients that do not meet UK food safety standards.

This warning comes following a number of incidents and intelligence received by the Food Standards Agency, and a pilot project funded by the FSA that was conducted by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team, which seized 3,378 items with a street value of £8,500 from local shops.

Products which were found to include unauthorised ingredients included Mountain Dew, Sunny D, Swedish Fish, Dubble Bubble, Jolly Rancher gummies and hard candy, Hot Tamales, Twizzlers and Lemonhead.

The American imported items that have been seized contained unauthorised additives not manufactured for the UK market, including brominated vegetable oil, mineral oil - which carries the risk of contamination with other compounds, which in turn are capable of forming cancers - and bleached flour. Erythrosine, or E127, which is shown on US products as Red 3 and can contribute to hyperactivity, is allowed in cocktail cherries in the UK, but not in sweets.

Other additives found require a disclaimer in the UK, stating that they can cause hyperactivity in children.

CTSI chief executive, John Herriman, said: “The UK prides itself on high food standards but this very much relies on Trading Standards ensuring that what is on sale complies with the law. It’s therefore extremely worrying to learn that as we approach Christmas confectionary that we know will appeal to children is on sale in UK high streets, and that it could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer.

"Trading Standards work extremely hard to protect the public by removing 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.”

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He added: “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. We also urge parents to be aware.”



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