The Diet Detective: Halloween Candy Deconstructed

11. Red 3

The evidence that this dye caused thyroid tumors in rats is "convincing," according to a 1983 review committee report requested by FDA. FDA's recommendation that the dye be banned was overruled by pressure from elsewhere in the Reagan administration. Red 3 was formerly used to color maraschino cherries, but it has been replaced there by the less controversial Red 40 dye. It is still used in a smattering of foods ranging from cake icing to fruit roll-ups to chewing gum.
12. Blue 1 Lake

According to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine: "One (unpublished) animal test suggested a small cancer risk, and a test-tube study indicated the dye might affect neurons. It also causes occasional allergic reactions."
13. Sesame Oil

An oil that is high in vitamin E.

Tootsie Roll Midgee

The Tootsie Roll is a national candy treasure, and if you or your children go trick or treating you're more than likely to end up with one of these in your pile of goodies.
Nutritional Information (per Midgee): 23 calories; 0.5g fat; 4.5 g carbs; 0.16 g protein
1. Sugar: See above.
2. Corn Syrup: See above.
3. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil

Creates trans fat, which increases heart disease.
4. Condensed Skim Milk

Milk from which the liquid has been removed and to which, typically, sugar has been added.
5. Cocoa

A powder made by roasting and grinding cocoa beans and removing the cocoa butter. This is safe to eat and is actually the heart-healthy component of chocolate.
6. Whey

The watery substance that separates from the solids (the curd) in milk.
7. Soya Lecithin

Soy comes from the soy bean. Lecithin is an emulsifier.
8. Artificial and Natural Flavors

According to the Federal Code: "The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof." Natural flavors, on the other hand, are derived from natural sources.

Healthy Choices

Looking to avoid candy altogether on Halloween? Good news: According to research done at Yale University and reported in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, children are just as likely to choose toys as candy on Halloween.

For the study, seven households offered 284 trick or treaters between the ages of three and 14 a choice between comparably sized toys and candies. The results showed that the children were just as likely to choose the toys as the candy. How about bubbles, Play-Dough, Silly Putty? It might be worth a try, although it might cost a bit more—at the very least you'll be promoting good health.

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Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert, nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions and Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at

Copyright 2011 by Charles Stuart Platkin

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