What's in that candy?

Ok, you can just call me Debbie Downer - here are some things to think about next time you pop in that mini chocolate bar, or those delightful gummy candies into your mouth…..

Glucose/High Fructose Corn Syrup

  • Highly processed glucose. Excess consumption may lead to increased metabolic syndrome: high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, increased abdominal adipose tissue and systemic inflammation.

Tertiary Butylhydroquinone TBHQ

  • Used as a preservative for vegetable oils. Amounts used in foods are limited by FDA since high amounts may be linked to stomach cancers and damage to DNA.

Shellac/Confectioner’s Glaze

  • Gives candy the shine/glaze. (Also the same substance that is used to coat pills and make furniture shine). It comes from the secretions of an Asian female beetle.


  • Reduces viscosity and control sugar crystallization, used typically to replace more expensive ingredients. At this time of this publication, a growing body of evidence indicates lecithin is converted TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) in the gut and over time may contribute to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Carmine/E120/Natural red dye

  • Derived from dried cochineal bugs, also used in make-up products. FDA has listed Carmine as a potential allergen and therefore must be listed on the food label.

Red 40/Allura Red

  • Chemical compound derived from coal tars. A study in 2011 found that there could be "a possible link between the consumption of these artificial colours and a sodium benzoate preservative and increased hyperactivity in children” (included: tartrazine, allure red, ponceau 4R, quinoline yellow, sunset yellow, carmoisine and sodium benzoate). As of 2019, the EFSA and FDA have approved the substances as safe in food products.

Partially Hydrogenated/Hydrogenated oils

  • Processed oils to a semisolid state, increasing shelf life and adding a pleasing texture. In 2017, Health Canada published a notice of modification that forbids the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in foods. Foods that were manufactured before September 17. 2018 may be sold for a period of two years. (many foods with PHO have a shelf life of up to 3 years). Consumption of PHO and HO can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil/Palmitate/Glyceryl Stearate

  • Oil extracted from a palm tree (Elaeis guineensis). Being used as a replacement for trans fat. Approximately 85% of palm oil is harvested Indonesia and Malaysia where human rights violations and child labour cases are common. Palm oil plantations are also listed as one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction and is leaving orangutangs on the verge of extinction. (I won’t post it here but last year I came across a horrible image of an orangutang that had been burnt in deforestation to create a palm oil plantation - it still haunts me to this day).


  • Gives gummy candies the soft and chewy texture. Derived from the extract of animal collagen found in the skin and bones