Cake decorating dust linked to heavy metal poisoning in children, CDC warns


FILE – In this February 8, 2005 file photo, a candy store owner applies gold luster sugar powder to chocolate-covered strawberries, the family-owned business in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. As of December 28, 2021, glossy dusts that are safe to eat are generally marked as edible, but others may contain heavy metals and should not be used on food. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – They make cakes and cupcakes shine and shine, but popular decorative sprinkles can contain toxic metals and are not always safe to eat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Thursday that not all products known as “shiny dust” are meant to be consumed even though they are labeled “non-toxic.” Some are to be used only for display, such as on a cake topper that is removed.

The report cites investigations by health officials in two states that traced diseases to baked goods using such dust.

Rhode Island health officials investigated a report in 2018 that found six children fell ill after a birthday party, with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea that matched 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 cake showed that it contained 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 seen widespread use of inedible luster dust in 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 shiny 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 while investigating high levels of lead in a 1-year-old. . A bright yellow decorative jar in the child’s house had been used to create flowers for the birthday cake. Laboratory testing of the dust, which was labeled as “non-toxic”, indicated that the sample contained 25% lead.

A public advisory of 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 foods, which must have a list of ingredients. If the label only says the product is “non-toxic” or “for decorative purposes only” and does not have an ingredient list, the agency said it should not be used on food.

The agency noted that glitter can be sold under names such as disco dust, glitter dust, glitter powder, and petal dust.

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