For mother Natasha Davis, letting her son trick-or-treat on Halloween night does not raise any concerns. Davis gives her son candy made from what she believes has few processed ingredients, such as DOTS, Twizzlers and gummy bears. But, these candies may be more harmful than she thinks.
“[My son is] not much of a candy eater and all the candy he does collect, either I eat it or give it away,” Davis said.
But DOTS, Twizzlers and gummy bears all have one thing in common: they contain artificial food coloring Red 40, Yellow 5 and Blue 1.
According to Additude, a website focused on Attention Deficit Disorder research, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Blue 1 are certified food dyes linked to hyperactivity in children. Yellow 5, or tartrazine, is also linked to blurred vision, severe headaches, anxiety and fatigue.
The Food and Drug Administration is aware these chemicals may be linked to hyperactivity in children, but still considers dye to be a safe chemical for consumption. The FDA is required to include food dyes on ingredient lists, but does not have to include the amount added to a product.
Ranked #1, #2 and #6 as the most popular Halloween candies in America according to the Daily Meal, Skittles, M&Ms and candy corn all contain various amounts of artificial food coloring.
Al Bennett, president and owner of the Natural Candy Store, strives to provide customers with healthy and safe alternatives. According to Bennett, the Natural Candy Store provides all-natural ingredients and meets dietary needs of people with allergies and certain lifestyles.
“A lot of people just prefer not to eat chemicals. They don’t want artificial preservatives, or they don’t want to eat dye,” Bennett said. “They don’t want to eat… ingredients that are used to stabilize products; things that are pretty common and have been common for years and years.”
This Halloween, Bennett recommends the “trick-or-treater trade” method to customers, especially mothers. Children collect candy from different households, but when they return to their own, parents swap the candy out for healthier alternatives.
Even though the Natural Candy Store is not quite up to the expectations of the average child according to Bennett, he knows his business still delivers the taste a child is looking for.
“Chemicals are absolutely predictable… they’re engineered… they’re processed in their design… they have a job they’re intended to do,” Bennett said. “With nature, you kind of get what nature provides you.”