Halloween Hyperactivity Comes in Bright Colors

Halloween is one of those holidays where even the most rational, health-conscious adults give their kids, and themselves, a break and let all junk food precautions fall by the wayside?.  They fill their homes with all the Snickers, Skittles, M&Ms and other Halloween candy goodness that they can find, for their kids, trick-or-treaters, and for themselves.

But, as my co-worker Mary Brune, founder of MOMS already discovered, many of these brightly-colored Halloween-themed snack foods have all sorts of nasty, artificial food dyes which have been linked to hyperactivity in children and tumors in animal studies conducted by the Center for Science for Public Interest.  Even your un-themed, regular old candy bars and junk foods have plenty of  food dyes linked with tumors and/or hyperactivity already in them.

So, just in time for all those candy-crazed Halloween activities coming up, we’ve decided to reviewed 3 classic candies that see enormous surges in sales every Halloween season.  Lets look at just how many hyperactivity-inducing, tumor-inducing dyes they really contain:

1.  M&M’s Milk Chocolate Candies

According the 2009/2010 database records from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, good old classic M&M candies contain 7 different artificial food dyes.  That’s right—7 dyes!  The dyes in this Halloween favorite include Yellow 5 and 6, which are linked to possible adrenal, testicular, and other tumors in the study.  It also listed Blue 1, which “caused kidney tumors in mice…and raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells.”  It also stated that, “the dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions.”


These sour gummy worms seem to be made from some magical material that you don’t really want to think about when you’re eating them.  We know all those bright, neon colors are nowhere near any naturally occurring shade we’ve ever seen before!  Like M&M’s, these “brite crawlers” contain Y 5 and 6, Brilliant Blue (B1), and also Red 40, which the study states, “may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice, causing hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small numbers of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children.”  The study also recommends that, “Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.”


You might be surprised to learn that even some chocolate candies with no immediate bright-colored appearance, like Reese’s bars, contain almost as many artificial dyes as more obviously dyed candies like skittles or M&M’s.  This particular “light and fluffy” bar contains Tartrazine (Y5), Sunset Yellow (Y6), and Indigotine (B2) and Allura Red (R40). Blue 2, the study states, “cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats.  It should not be used in foods.”

Watch the cutest scary Halloween video about food dyes: