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FDA Advises Home and Commercial Bakers to Avoid Use of Non-Edible Food Decorative Products

FDA is advising home and commercial bakers to avoid using glitter and dust products to decorate cakes and other food items unless the products are specifically manufactured to be edible.

The agency has become aware that some non-edible decorative glitters and dusts are promoted for use on foods. Home and commercial bakers need to be aware that these types of glitters and dusts are not intended to be used directly on foods and may contain materials that should not be eaten.

Many decorative glitters and dusts are sold over the Internet and in craft and bakery supply stores under names such as luster dust, disco dust, twinkle dust, sparkle dust, highlighter, shimmer powder, pearl dust, and petal dust. A variety of online instructional videos, blogs, and articles promote the use of these glitters and dusts to decorate foods such as cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops.

Some glitters and dusts are edible and are produced specifically for use on foods. These products are made from ingredients that can be safely eaten.

Bakers should carefully check the label of decorative products they consider for use on foods. Companies that make edible glitters and dusts are required by law to include a list of ingredients on the label. Common ingredients in edible glitter or dust include sugar, acacia (gum arabic), maltodextrin, cornstarch, and color additives specifically approved for food use, including mica-based pearlescent pigments and FD&C colors such as FD&C Blue No. 1. Most edible glitters and dusts also state “edible” on the label. If the label simply says “non-toxic” or “for decorative purposes only” and does not include an ingredients list, the product should not be used directly on foods.

If a baker chooses to decorate a food item with decorations that are not edible, the decorations should be removed before the food is served and eaten.

FDA reminds commercial bakers that it is their responsibility as a food manufacturer -- be it a large commercial bakery or a small, home-based business – to produce food that complies with the applicable FDA regulations and state and local laws. Manufacturers of food containing unsafe ingredients are potentially subject to FDA enforcement actions to keep unsafe products out of the marketplace.

If you have specific questions about the regulatory status of ingredients in glitter and dust used in food decorating, contact the Office of Food Additive Safety at premarkt@fda.hhs.gov.

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