glitter

Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

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The FDA has rung out the warning bells for the non-edible glitter in food this festive season. There has been increased demand of edible glitter used in the decoration of food and drinks in recent years. With the popularity of social media like Instagram, people want their food to look as attractive as they can.

But with an upsurge in demand of edible glitter, there is also a danger of people consuming non-edible glitter. During this Christmas season, FDA has issued a new warning that decorative products on foods are not all inherently safe to eat.

“FDA wants you to be aware that some decorative glitters and dusts promoted for use on foods may, in fact, contain materials that should not be eaten,” the government agency writes in the new warning. “Many decorative glitters and dusts are sold over the Internet and in craft and bakery supply stores under names such as luster dust, disco dust, twinkle dust, sparkle dust, highlighter, shimmer powder, pearl dust, and petal dust…. There are some glitters and dusts that are edible and produced specifically for use on foods. These products are made from ingredients that may be safely eaten. But others may not.”

Apart from being careful while buying glitter, how would you be sure that your glitter is edible or not? The FDA offers up a number of tips. First, look for an ingredient list: Food products are required by law to have one. These glitters typically have “edible” written right on the label and include ingredients like “sugar, acacia (gum arabic), maltodextrin, cornstarch, and color additives specifically approved for food use, including mica-based pearlescent pigments and FD&C colors such as FD&C Blue No. 1.”

Avoid products which are labelled as “for decorative purposes only” — which might as well translate to “don’t eat me” — or simply “non-toxic.” Just because something isn’t “toxic” doesn’t mean you necessarily want to purposefully put it into your body. (Crayola crayons are famously non-toxic, but you probably wouldn’t want to garnish your food with crayon shavings.) In fact, if glitter isn’t edible, the FDA suggests you probably shouldn’t use it on food at all.

FDA also has a warning for commercial vendors. “Manufacturers of food containing unsafe ingredients are potentially subject to FDA enforcement actions to keep unsafe products out of the marketplace,” the agency warns.

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