Press Releases

Halloween Licorice: Jelly Belly OK, Not So Good & Plenty

Oakland, CA-The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today is announcing legal agreements with companies requiring them to end their sales of black licorice containing levels of lead in violation of California’s consumer protection law. CEH now has such agreements with more than 30 companies that make and/or sell licorice, but with Halloween coming, CEH is warning parents that Hershey, maker of Good & Plenty licorice, has not reached such an agreement, and the company’s licorice may still contain lead.

Companies that have reached legal agreements with CEH include Albertson’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, RJ’s Licorice, and Bay Area favorite Jelly Belly, among others. “We are hopeful that Hershey will clean up the problem quickly, but parents need to know that kids should skip the company’s licorice this Halloween.” Good & Plenty licorice purchased by CEH at a Bay Area Walgreens in March tested for twice as much lead as the limit other companies have agreed to meet under the legal agreements with CEH.

Molasses is a major ingredient in many brands of black licorice, including Good & Plenty. But some molasses contains high lead levels, so processed foods with molasses may contain excessive levels of lead. Under California’s Prop 65 consumer protection law, consumers must be warned when products can expose them to high levels of lead. Companies that have reached legal agreements with CEH are sourcing safer molasses, by requiring lead testing and/or by buying from different suppliers or buying a different grade of molasses. The companies also agree to test their licorice for compliance with California safety levels.

Lead is a stunningly toxic chemical that is known to cause reproductive health problems and infertility, and to learning disorders, brain and nerve damage, hearing problems, stunted growth, digestive problems, and other health concerns. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for children.

CEH first uncovered lead poisoning risks from candy more than ten years ago, when the nonprofit took action to end high levels of lead that were found in candies imported from Mexico. In 2006, CEH reached legal agreements with Hershey, Mars and the largest Mexican candy maker to eliminate lead problems from their imported candies.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is a national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. protect children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

Companies that have agreed to end lead risks in licorice

Albertson’s LLC

American Licorice Company

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.

Cost Plus, Inc.


Darrell Lea Confectionary Co. Pty. Ltd.

Falcon Trading Company

Figi’s Inc.

Gelson’s Markets


J. Sosnick & Son

Jelly Belly Candy Company

JNC International Inc.

Kenny’s Candy Company, Inc

Lucky Country, Inc

Marshalls of CA, LLC ; Marshalls of MA, Inc.

Melshire DFW, LP d/b/a Natalie’s Candy Jar

Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets, Inc.

Orkla Confectionary & Snacks Finland AB

Premier Grocery, Inc. Sunflower Farmers Markets, LLC


Renwood Andronico Lending 1,LLC

RJ’s Licorice Limited

SunRidge Farm, Inc.

Sweet Candy, LLC

The Vermont Country Store, Inc.

Trader Joe’s Company

Walgreen Co.

Whole Foods Market, Inc.

Wythe Will Tzetzo, LLC