Revealed: The imported US sweets containing banned additives linked to cancer and hyperactivity that are hiding on your children’s Christmas stocking wish list…

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Sweets likely to be on millions of children’s Christmas wish lists can contain banned ingredients that could even raise the risk of cancer, it emerged this week. 

Popular stocking filler treats, such as Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Lemonheads, are all imported from the US and have become widely available across the UK. 

As well as appearing on a host of confectionary shelves across the country, they are growing in popularity online, with ads appearing on TikTok and Instagram.

But trading standards officers this week seized £8,500-worth of banned US treats from 22 stores in Staffordshire, warning they contain carcinogenic ingredients banned in the UK.

While British versions of the products sold in major shops have had their recipes tweaked to comply with UK rules, those with a US formulation include prohibited chemicals. 

Here, MailOnline sets out the nine brands of US sweets that were seized this week and breaks down each unauthorised ingredient that they contain. 

Popular stocking filler treats, such as Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Lemonheads, are all imported from the US and have become widely available across the UK. As well as appearing on a host of confectionary shelves across the country, they are growing in popularity online, with ads appearing on TikTok and Instagram. While versions of the products sold in major shops have had their recipes tweaked to comply with UK rules, those with a US formulation that are unlawfully imported include prohibited chemicals

Mountain Dew canned and bottled drinks 

PepsiCo, under pressure from consumer advocates, eliminated brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from most of their beverages last year.

However, some Mountain Dew items in the US still contain it, suppliers say.

BVO, a type of vegetable oil with bromine in it, frequently appears in US diet and citrus sodas to stop ingredients from separating. 

The substance is banned Japan, India, and the European Union.

The bulk of health concerns surrounding BVO stem from the presence of bromine. Unlike some other additives, it is not designated a carcinogen.

However, BVO has been linked to headaches, memory loss, impaired balance and thyroid problems.

WHAT ARE THE LAWS ON IMPORTING SWEETS FROM THE US? 

Rules set by the Government’s law enforcement agency permits anyone returning to the UK to bring chocolate and confectionary, but not those made with a lot of unprocessed dairy ingredients.

Import laws in England and Wales, however, restrict those wanting to import products with ingredients that are not permitted in the UK, like mineral oil or E127.

The Food Standards Agency has also called on the UK food industry to voluntarily withdraw products which contain E110, E104, E122, E129, E102 and E124.

If a UK product or product imported into the UK contains one, or more, of the six specified colours they require a warning on the label.

This must indicate that the colours may have an adverse effect on activity and attention spans of children, the Food Standards Agency says.

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Additionally, inhaling bromine itself can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, as well as the mucous membranes that line the inside of the mouth, throat, stomach, and lungs. 

Other US variations of Mountain Dew spotted in the UK — Mountain Dew Voltage and Mountain Dew Code Red — contain the additives calcium disodium EDTA or erythorbic acid.

Under UK food safety standards, these chemicals are allowed in food — found in some salad dressings, tinned goods and mayonnaise — but not drinks.  

Studies on animals suggest the calcium disodium EDTA can cause adverse reproductive and developmental effects. In mice it has even been shown to contribute to bowel cancer.

Meanwhile, some evidence suggests erythorbic acid could trigger side effects including stomach pain and irritation, diarrhea or nausea. 

The additives E102, shown on American products as Yellow 5, and E129, also called allura red, are also found in many Mountain Dew products listed on US import sites. 

These two ingredients require a disclaimer that they can cause hyperactivity in children. But dozens of UK-based websites selling American candy, seen by MailOnline, failed to declare this. 

As with all legitimate products, formulations are different in the UK.  

Mirinda

Calcium disodiuem EDTA is also commonly found in US-manufactured Mirinda.

The soft drink brand, owned by PepsiCo, also contains the additive E110 — shown on American products as ‘sunset yellow’ and found to trigger hyperactivity.

Under UK trading standards regulation, manufacturers and shops are required to issue this warning. 

However, the drink is also sold in shops legally with a UK-tailored recipe. It is only the US version that contains calcium disodium EDTA and E110. 

Swedish Fish

Mineral oil, a common ingredient in baby lotions and cosmetics, can also be found in sweets imported from the US. 

MailOnline found US imports of Swedish Fish — a bite-sized fish-shaped chewy sweet — were sold as containing the additive in its bags of ‘Mini Crush Candy’. 

Used to to increase the shelf life of products and create a glossy, smooth coating, its use has long been banned in the UK. 

While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the additive is safe, studies suggest the substance, which is derived from petroleum, could raise the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer and bladder cancer.

Other additives found in alternative Swedish Fish products — its Original Bag and Assorted Tails — include E129, E102 and E110, according to product listings. 

Trading standard officers this week seized £8,500-worth of banned US treats from 22 stores in Staffordshire, warning they contain carcinogenic ingredients banned in the UK

Trading standard officers this week seized £8,500-worth of banned US treats from 22 stores in Staffordshire, warning they contain carcinogenic ingredients banned in the UK

While versions of the products sold in major shops have had their recipes tweaked to comply with UK rules, those with a US formulation that are unlawfully imported include prohibited chemicals. Pictured, some Jolly Rancher sweets removed from shop shelves

While versions of the products sold in major shops have had their recipes tweaked to comply with UK rules, those with a US formulation that are unlawfully imported include prohibited chemicals. Pictured, some Jolly Rancher sweets removed from shop shelves 

Dubble Bubble 

Mineral oil is also listed as an ingredient in Dubble Bubble products sold through US importers, including its 85g Big Bar and 18g tube of cotton candy bubble gum. 

Some sites said the bar contains the additive E127 or erythrosine, which is shown on American products as Red 3. 

This dye was banned from the UK after research suggested it could lead to hyperactive behaviour, especially in children. However, the substance is still allowed in cocktail cherries. 

Concerns have also long been raised after animal studies showed links between E127 and increased thyroid hormone levels and, more rarely, thyroid tumours.

E129 and E102 are among other additives listed as included in its 127g bag of bubble gum. 

WHAT ARE THE UNAUTHORISED ADDITIVES BANNED IN THE UK? 

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

The bulk of health concerns surrounding BVO stem from the presence of bromine.

Unlike some other additives, it is not designated a carcinogen.

However, BVO has been linked to headaches, memory loss, impaired balance and thyroid problems.

Additionally, inhaling bromine itself can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, as well as the mucous membranes that line the inside of the mouth, throat, stomach, and lungs. 

Erythrosine (E127)

This dye was banned from the UK after research suggested it could lead to hyperactive behaviour, especially in children. However, the substance is still allowed in cocktail cherries. 

Concerns have also long been raised after animal studies showed links between E127 and increased thyroid hormone levels and, more rarely, thyroid tumours.

Mineral Oil

Used to to increase the shelf life of products and create a glossy, smooth coating, its use has long been banned in the UK. 

While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the additive is safe, studies suggest the substance, which is derived from petroleum, could raise the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer and bladder cancer.

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Jolly Rancher gummies and hard candy

Some Jolly Rancher products were also found to contain banned ingredients.

A 198g bag of blue raspberry hard candy and 2kg bag of assorted fruity flavours are listed on US import websites as containing mineral oil. 

Additives E129, E102 and E110 were also listed in the brand’s ‘Original Gummies Theater Box’ and ‘Sour Gummies Theater Box’.  

Hot Tamales

Mineral oil was also a listed ingredient on US-manufactured Hot Tamales ‘Fierce Cinnamon flavoured Chew Candies’ sold at one store.  

E129, E102 and E110 were among its other controversial ingredients. 

Sunny D

E102 and calcium disodium EDTA are among the ingredients found in US-based juice company Sunny D, according to one site that stocks imported products. 

Its orange-strawberry and orange-peach flavours were also said to contain E110 and E129.

Sunny D products sold in UK supermarkets, however, do not contain these ingredients. 

In order to meet Britain’s requirements, the recipe is tweaked before it is available in major shops.

Twizzlers

Unauthorised additives mineral oil and E129 can be found in Twizzler’s Strawberry Twists on some US import sites. 

Other US-imported products, such as the Twizzler Tongue Twister Gummies and Orange Cream Pop Filled Twists, found by MailOnline on UK websites, were said to include E102 and E110. 

Lemonhead

Additive E102 and mineral oil are among two ingredients commonly listed in Lemonhead’s hardboiled sweets on US import sites. 

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