A project funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found American sweets and drinks on sale in the United Kingdom.

Some confectionery products imported from the United States aren’t meant to be sold in the UK, and they might contain unauthorized additives.

Trading Standards officers at Staffordshire County Council uncovered the items as part of a two-week operation to tackle the sale of potentially unsafe imported foods, where labeling is not in English and allergens have not been declared.

More than 50 shops were inspected, with many unaware the products being sold contained ingredients banned in the UK, such as mineral oil, bleached flour or Brominated Vegetable oil (BVO). Officers also seized cans and bottles of soft drinks containing Calcium disodium EDTA, which is allowed in food but not in beverages.

At least 3,300 items were confiscated including Mountain Dew, Sunny D, Dubble Bubble, Jolly Rancher gummies and hard candy, Hot Tamales, Twizzlers, and Swedish Fish.

Victoria Wilson, from Staffordshire County Council, said the finding were worrying.

“While the majority of foods are safe and most stores operate within the law, it is important that imported food is accurately labeled in English with the allergens declared.  We are seeing more and more illegal items being sold on social media websites and marketplaces, including counterfeit foods,” she said.

The easiest way for consumers to check whether goods are American imports or not is to look at how weight is recorded. In the UK, grams and milliliters are used while in America, it is fluid ounce and ounce.

Use of additives

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has also issued a warning to parents ahead of the Christmas period.

The alert covers additives, which when used need a disclaimer to state they can cause hyperactivity in children. These include Sunset yellow FCF (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) – Yellow 5 and ponceau 4R (E124). Erythrosine is shown on American products as Red 3.

The group appealed to people placing the products on the market, including suppliers and retailers, to remove items that contain unauthorized ingredients.

“It’s extremely worrying to learn that as we approach Christmas, confectionery that we know will appeal to children is on sale in UK high streets, and that it could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer,” said John Herriman, CTSI chief executive.

“Trading Standards work extremely hard to protect the public by removing dangerous products from sale, but the popularity of these items is being increased by videos on social media platforms, such as TikTok. The increase in demand means importers are sending these through our ports and borders in the millions, and these are then being widely distributed and ending up in retail stores and in the hands of children.”

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