NEW YORK (AP) — They make cakes and cupcakes sparkle and sparkle, but popular decorative sprinkles can contain toxic metals and aren’t always safe to eat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Thursday that not all products known as “lustre dust” are intended for consumption even though they are labeled “non-toxic.” Some are to be used for display only, such as on a cake topper that is removed.
The report cites investigations by health officials in two states that traced illnesses to baked goods using such dust.
Rhode Island health officials investigated a 2018 report of six children who fell ill after a birthday party, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea consistent with heavy metal poisoning. They all ate a bakery cake with a thick layer of icing mixed with “gold dust”.
Tests on a remaining slice of the cake showed it to contain copper, as did tests on the dust used by the bakery. The report notes that the dust was marked as “inedible”, “non-toxic” and “for decoration only”.
State health officials have noted the widespread use of inedible luster dust at other bakeries. Brendalee Viveiros, a food safety expert with the Rhode Island Department of Health and co-author of the CDC report, said the state has issued guidelines on the use of chandelier dust for businesses.
In 2019, the report also notes that Missouri health officials identified “primrose petal dust” used to decorate a cake as a lead hazard during an investigation of high lead levels in a child in his ‘a year. A bright yellow decorating jar in the child’s house had been used to create flowers for the birthday cake. Laboratory tests of the dust, labeled as “non-toxic”, indicated that the sample contained 25% lead.
A public advisory from the Food and Drug Administration also warns of the potential dangers of consuming decorative glitter. He says bakers should check the labels of decorative products used on food, which must have an ingredient list. If the label only says the product is “non-toxic” or “for decorative purposes only” and has no ingredient list, the agency said it shouldn’t be used on food.
The agency noted that glitter can be sold under names such as disco dust, shimmer dust, shimmer powder, and petal dust.