1. Artificial dyes used in M&M’s and other candy have been linked to ADHD in kids.
The science on this isn’t 100% conclusive (and you can argue that sugar alone does a fine job of triggering hyperactivity) but there are absolutely reasons to be concerned about the widespread use of petroleum-based dyes in food — enough so that multiple other countries have already banned them and over 100,000 people have signed a petition to change M&M dyes. Get the full scoop on possible health risks in this extremely detailed report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
2. Deforestation caused by harvesting palm oil (used to make lots of candies) is endangering orangutans.
This report from the Rainforest Action Network is clearly designed to tug at your heartstrings, and it’s worth noting that many candy manufacturers are working with the Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil to source it responsibly. But it’s still undeniable that palm oil — found in everything from Starburst to Snickers — is extremely common in packaged foods, extremely unhealthy, and much of what’s harvested has a serious impact on rainforests.
5. The 19 ingredients in a Butterfinger bar include TBHQ — a preservative chemically related to butane, aka lighter fluid.
Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is lethal in quantities over five grams, but the FDA has — under pressure from food manufacturers — approved its use as long as it makes up less than .02% of a food’s oil or fat content.
6. Vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry flavorings in candy are sometimes made with castoreum, an extract made from beaver butt excretions.
Because the FDA has ruled castoreum to be “generally regarded as safe,” manufacturers can list it on food labels as “natural flavoring.” So you’ll probably NEVER KNOW if you’re eating it — but it’s not bad for you, just a little…funky.
7. Kids actually have died from poisoned Halloween candy — but only at the hands of their own relatives.
The idea of a stranger handing out lethal treats to trick-or-treaters is a myth, but there have been two horrifying incidents of people poisoning their own kids’ candy. In 1970, a 5-year-old ate some of his uncle’s heroin stash and died; his parents sprinkled the heroin on his Halloween candy to try to throw off the police. In 1974, the worst father on earth laced his 8-year-old son’s candy with cyanide to collect on a life insurance policy.