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Consumers should avoid Valentine’s Day Sweethearts because of red dye 3 dangers

Consumer Reports has called on Spangler Candy Company to stop using cancer-causing red dye 3 in its Valentine’s Day Sweethearts and other candies 

YONKERS, NY – Consumer Reports is advising consumers to avoid buying the popular Valentine’s Day Sweethearts candy made by Spangler Candy Company this holiday because it is made with Red Dye 3, a known carcinogen. CR called on the company in a letter in January to stop making candy with the cancer-causing dye, but the company has not responded to repeated messages and has not announced any plans to change its manufacturing process. Now CR is asking consumers to send the same message to the company.

“Valentine’s Day Sweethearts candy that come with cute flirty sayings are a fun way to celebrate the holiday,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “But consumers should be aware that the iconic candy that is so popular for Valentine’s Day is made with an ingredient that is a known carcinogen. If you’re shopping for a Valentine’s Day treat for your sweetheart this year, look for one that doesn’t contain Red Dye 3.”

For decades, the FDA has been aware of multiple studies showing that Red Dye 3 can cause cancer in animals. When lab rats were fed high doses of the dye over long periods, they developed tumors in their thyroids, the studies found. Several studies have linked some artificial food dyes, including Red Dye 3, to hyperactivity and other neurobehavioral effects in children. While Red Dye 3 poses risks to people of all ages, young children may be the most vulnerable because of their small body weight.

Red Dye 3 has been banned by the FDA from use in cosmetics since 1990. Inexplicably, although the FDA deemed these external uses unsafe, ingested uses are still allowed even though the agency indicated in 1990 that it would take steps to ban it from food as well.

In addition to urging the candy companies to stop using Red Dye 3, Consumer Reports joined the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other groups last October to petition the FDA for a ban on the cancer-causing ingredient in all food. More than 2,900 food products contain Red Dye 3, including many artificially flavored and artificially colored candy. The FDA requires manufacturers to list Red Dye 3 as an ingredient on a food’s label.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537