Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Artificial colours ring alarm bells

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label says about its contents.

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies. Photo / NZ Herald
Cadbury Dairy Milk - Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies. Photo / NZ Herald

Cadbury Dairy Milk - Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies. $5.99 for 290g.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a great chocolate, loved by many. But recently, chocolate makers have been tinkering with their product to produce new varieties. This is one of them, with its jelly and popping candy additions.

A packaging with this many fun colours usually sets off alarm bells for me when I am looking at a food product suitable for my family. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised to find that the food manufacturer has made the effort to use natural colours instead of artificial. But not in this case.

It would also be easy to surmise that "popping candy" is created from some sort of nasty chemical combination which reacts with saliva in the mouth. I was pleased to see that is not the case. It's simply trapped carbon dioxide.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):
Milk chocolate (83%) Beanies (7%) Jelly (6%), Popping candy (4%)

Full cream milk
Main ingredient in milk chocolate.

As expected for a sweet product the sugar content per serve (which is approximately two pieces) is a massive 14.7g or 3.5 teaspoons of sugar.

Cocoa butter
This is a pale yellow vegetable fat which is taken from the cocoa or cacao bean. Some chocolate manufacturers opt to put vegetable oil in their chocolate instead of this butter, so this is a good sign that the chocolate will taste good.

Cocoa mass
When you grind cocoa beans up you get a paste which is cocoa mass.

Milk solids
When you dehydrate milk you get proteins and carbohydrates left behind which is milk solids.

Popping candy (sugar)
As previously detailed.

Corn glucose syrup
This is a form of sugar, from corn.

Cocoa butter
As previously detailed.

Lactose (from milk)
I'm not sure why this would be in this candy but it is a very sweet substance so possibly for that reason.

These will be artificial.

Colours (133, 120,141)
There is one artificial colour, Brilliant Blue (133); the others are Carmine, a red colour obtained from insects (120) and chlorophyll copper complexes (141) which is an olive green colour.

Carbon dioxide
This is an essential ingredient for the popping candy because it provides the "pop" in the mouth. The candies are made by mixing the ingredients (above) into a syrup which is then exposed to pressurised carbon dioxide which causes tiny bubbles trapped inside the candy. When it comes into contact with saliva in the mouth the candy dissolves and releases the carbon dioxide which pops and leaves a tingling sensation.

Wheat glucose syrup
This is a sugar obtained from wheat.

Invert sugar
This is sugar which has been treated to split into glucose and fructose which is sweeter than sugar.

Thickener (acid modified wheat starch, 422)
Acid modified wheat starch is also known as treated starch, a great thickener. The other thickener is glycerine (422) which is a natural substance.

Emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 476)
Soya lecithin is a yellow-brown fatty substance taken from soya beans. And 476 stands for polyglycerol polyricinoleate which is made from castor beans and is a common ingredient in chocolate because it reduces the thickness of the product.

This will be in here as a thickener.

Colours (171, 124, 110, 102, 133, 155, 123)
There is only one natural colour with no health concerns attached to it here and it is titanium dioxide (171) a white colour obtained from common minerals.

The other six have health concerns attached to them and have been banned in other countries including the United States and Britain.

Ponceau 4R (124), a red synthetic colour which has been banned in the US, Norway and Finland. It can cause allergic reactions and there are concerns that it might be carcinogenic.

Sunset Yellow FCF (110) is banned in Norway and Finland. After the same study mentioned for tartrazine the United Kingdom requested a voluntary withdrawal of this colouring in all its foods.

Tartrazine (102) is an artificial yellow dye which has been banned in Norway and the United Kingdom due a study which found links to hyperactivity in children. Brilliant Blue (133) is banned in 11 countries and can cause allergic reactions.

Brown HT (155) is made from coal tar. It is commonly used to give a brown colour but is not approved for use in foods in the United States and many European countries because it causes allergic reactions.

Amaranth (123) is a dark red or purple dye which is a suspected carcinogen banned in the US in 1976.

Vegetable gum (414)
This is gum Arabic from the acacia tree

These will be artificial flavours.

Food acid (330)
This is citric acid.

Glazing agent (vegetable oil, 903)
A glazing agent is put on food products to add some shine. In this case an oil has been used as well as carnauba wax (903) from the leaves of the Carnauba palm.


* Six artificial colours with health concerns which are banned in other countries including the US and the UK.

* Popping candies "pop" in the mouth because of trapped carbon dioxide bubbles.

* 3.5 teaspoons of sugar in just two squares of this chocolate.

- NZ Herald

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