It is the dye in Smarties!


Well, I just got a reply from Nestle UK. Turns out the manager of that store was right about them not being allowed into the USA because of the dye.

April 2004

Thank you for your recent enquiry via email. May we first apologise for the delay in our reply.

Smarties are not permitted in the USA due to the additive E120 which give the sweets their red colours.

Cochineal, otherwise known as carmine, is probably the best known of all food colours. The raw material for cochineal manufacture is obtained from insects native to Mexico, but a number of extraction and purification processes have to be gone through to make the preparation used for food colouring. Most of our products have been on the market for many years and a number have become household names. It has only been by careful attention to what customers want that their position has been maintained. It is not without considerable thought and extensive research that any changes are made to such a product.

Thank you once again for taking the trouble to contact us. I hope that this answers your questions and that you will continue to enjoy our products in the future.

Kind regards

Karen Short Consumer Services Nestle UK Ltd

On Apr 23, 2004


I am not sure why Nestle UK told you that carmine (E120) was banned from food products in the USA. I looked at the US Food and Drug Administraion web site, and it states that carmine (E120) is permitted for use in foods in the USA. It was approved for use in foods in the USA in 1967. I saw on one web site that it is also an ingredient in Wonka Nerds.


**************** This site lists all colours approved for use in human food by the FDA:



[Code of Federal Regulations] [Title 21, Volume 1] [Revised as of April 1, 2002] From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access [CITE: 21CFR73.100] [Page 351-352] TITLE 21--FOOD AND DRUGS CHAPTER I--FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES PART 73--LISTING OF COLOR ADDITIVES EXEMPT FROM CERTIFICATION--Table of Contents Subpart A--Foods Sec. 73.100 Cochineal extract; carmine. (a) Identity. (1) The color additive cochineal extract is the concentrated solution obtained after removing the alcohol from an aqueous-alcoholic extract of cochineal (Dactylopius coccus costa (Coccus cacti L.)). The coloring principle is chiefly carminic acid. (2) The color additive carmine is the aluminum or calcium-aluminum lake on an aluminum hydroxide substrate of the coloring principles, chiefly carminic acid, obtained by an aqueous extraction of cochineal (Dactylopius coccus costa (Coccus cacti L.)). (3) Color additive mixtures for food use made with cochineal extract or carmine may contain only diluents that are suitable and that are listed in this subpart as safe in color additive mixtures for coloring foods. (b) Specifications. (1) Cochineal extract shall conform to the following specifications: pH, not less than 5.0 and not more than 5.5 at 25 [deg]C. Protein (N x 6.25), not more than 2.2 percent. Total solids, not less than 5.7 and not more than 6.3 percent. Methyl alcohol, not more than 150 parts per million. Lead (as Pb), not more than 10 parts per million. Arsenic (as As), not more than 1 part per million. Carminic acid, not less than 1.8 percent. (2) Carmine shall conform to the following specifications: Volatile matter (at 135 [deg]C. for 3 hours), not more than 20.0 percent. Ash, not more than 12.0 percent. Lead (as Pb), not more than 10 parts per million. Arsenic (as As), not more than 1 part per million. Carminic acid, not less than 50.0 percent. Carmine and cochineal extract shall be pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy all viable Salmonella microorganisms. Pasteurization or such other treatment is deemed to permit the adding of safe and suitable substances (other than chemical preservatives) that are essential to the method of pasteurization or other treatment used. For the purposes of this paragraph, safe and suitable substances are those substances that perform a useful function in the pasteurization or other treatment to render the carmine and cochineal extract free of viable Salmonella microorganisms, which substances are not food additives as defined in section 201(s) of the act or, if they are food additives as so defined, are used in conformity with regulations established pursuant to section 409 of the act. [b](c) Uses and restrictions. Carmine and cochineal extract may be safely used for coloring foods generally in amounts consistent with good manufacturing practice, except that they may not be used to color foods for which standards of identity have been promulgated under section 401 of the act unless added color is authorized by such standards.[/b] [[Page 352]] (d) Labeling requirements. The label of the color additives and any mixtures intended solely or in part for coloring purposes prepared therefrom shall conform to the requirements of Sec. 70.25 of this chapter. (e) Exemption from certification. Certification of these color additives is not necessary for the protection of the public health, and therefore batches thereof are exempt from the certification requirements of section 721(c) of the act.

[This message has been edited by erik (edited April 23, 2004).]

On Apr 23, 2004

How odd. [img][/img] Which begs me to ask, is the same dye colour used in Canadian Smarties? Americans can still purchase them on-line, so that would suggest to me that they're not *banned* in America.

How very odd.

Still continuing with my label reading this week of dyes and colours and numbers and again, none on food to-day. However, I did buy what I swear is a CLEAR body wash and it has at least three different dyes in it. Very well labeled with the dye colours and numbers. I tell you, the stuff is clear!

I guess the question would also be, can any American find Canadian Smarties in stores anywhere in America (I know they're not everywhere, I'm just wondering if someone has come across some along the way).

Again, how very odd. Can't even think of another word. Just odd. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 24, 2004

Scruffy, just had an interesting thing happen to me so I thought I would post it in this thread, where it's *kinda* appropriate.

My children have two children over for a play-date (brother and sister combo to go with my brother and sister combo). Anyway, it's a beautiful day out and they've chosen to play outside.

Behind my house and the back yard are the back yards and then field of the new sub-division that has been built.

There was an older child out there playing, not on our property, but just on the border of it. He looks to be about 12. I don't know, I'm not good with ages.

Then, his sister came over as well, but they're not coming onto our property and my children, along with their play-dates go and introduce themselves.

So, all six kids out there playing together. I made some Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies from a Quaker mix. Take them out and I ask the two children that I don't know if they have any food allergies or if they're not allowed to eat anything in particular.

The boy says that no, he can't have the cookies. He is especially not allowed to have store bought cookies, but *homemade* cookies from a mix are even worse. His Father doesn't let him eat anything that has certain dyes or flavourings in it.

I offered to get him the Quaker mix bag to let him check the ingredients but he declined the cookies instead. His sister was allowed to eat them.

It just struck me, not that I haven't always known anyway, but there are a LOT of reasons that people label read, not just because of PA/FA.

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 24, 2004

Do you know what I just realized in absolute horror? I wouldn't want my children accepting food from a STRANGER! A STRANGER!

I'm upset with myself now.

I had my children and the play-date children outside and they knew I was making cookies. It didn't seem fair to me to call the children in (the four I have with me) leaving the other two that they're playing with outside for some unknown reason.

However, that's probably what I *should* have done.

Those children do not know me!

Now, of course, they're also outside playing unsupervised in a field, but those children do not know me! OMG! [img][/img]

I am SO used to baking for play-dates when my kids have them or when I baked in the last house and we were attached (I lived in a semi), I always sent some of the baked goods next door.

But OMG, I really feel terrible. Nice light bulb moment I had when the child declined the cookies for the reason he did, but OMG! I'm very upset.

I'll have to speak with my kids tonight and explain to them (although I *think* Jesse would know anyway) not to accept food from STRANGERS EVER!

I feel like crap.

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 28, 2004

Raising for a friend whose son just had a reaction to Smarties.

On Apr 28, 2004

Heather2, Nestle Smarties or the American Smarties?

With Canadian Smarties, it's simply not possible for a PA child to have had a reaction because they are made in a peanut/nut free facility and stamped with a peanut free guarantee.

If it is Canadian Smarties, I'm wondering if the child could be reacting to something else, like say the dye?

Even with American Smarties [url=""][/url] although they aren't guaranteed "peanut free" as Nestle Canadian Smarties are, but they are "safe" for PA people.

There are some new lines of Nestle Canada products, like the Smarties chocolate bars that are not PA safe.

I think we need The Candy Guru erik in here to help.

I do know my daughter had a child in her class last year that was allergic to red dye and I do know there was a member here (not posting regularly anymore) who was charting what different food dyes I believe her TWO children were allergic to - the colours and the numbers.

How is your friend's child? I hope they are okay. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 28, 2004

Cindy, It was definitely not American Smarties. It was Smarties minis - the ones that come in a little box in a big bag. I don't know if it was Nestle UK or Nestle Canada. I've been calling her house but have not been able to reach her. She sent me an e-mail this morning and not much information. It definitely could be the dye.

On Apr 28, 2004

Yes, I believe these would be Nestle Canada Smarties (the bag with mini-boxes in it). These are manufactured in a peanut-free/nut-free facility.


On Apr 28, 2004

Nevertheless, a reaction can still occur. Oreo cookies are supposed to be safe, and my son does react to them. Each time he has one, he's in need of Benadryl. I don't know *what* makes the reaction though, because he's been able to eat other manufactured cookies (Viva Puff, which we tried for the first time last week).

So a peanut/nut free label is not the same as "allergy free", as people here would know.

On Apr 28, 2004

This whole thing is very bizarre. [img][/img] Is anyone else rather grossed out that the dye is make from a Mexican insect?! Yuck!!! Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I eat grosser things each and every day. This one just [b]sounds[/b] [b]particularly[/b] gross, though! [img][/img] Miriam

On Apr 28, 2004

Hi Miriam,

Yes.. think of all the bright colours in the foods we eat.. almost everything seems to have colour added.

On Apr 28, 2004

darthcleo, yes, that's why Nestle Canada took the allergy free guarantee off their product. Because it wasn't allergen free, it was peanut/nut free but say maybe not milk free (I'd have to check a box for the ingredients).

Now, with your story of the Oreos, to me, that might be a totally different thing. Mr. Christie's has always maintained to me when I've written to them that there is a concrete barrier in their plant dividing the part where there are peanuts and peanut products and the part that is peanut free. I have never physically seen the concrete barrier. Yet, the Mr. Christie's line of cookies doesn't say "made in a facility" and I consider Kraft/Nabisco/Mr. Christie's pretty good here at labeling, so they must feel they have good allergen practices in place, but still.

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 28, 2004

Heather2, my children happened to have Smarties after school to-day so I actually have an ingredient list in front of me:-

milk chocolate (sugar, milk ingredients, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, soya lecithin, artificial flavour), sugar, wheat flour, modified corn starch, carnauba wax, colour.

As Scruffy and I have discussed in this thread, along with other people certainly, in Canada, it would appear that dye colours and numbers are NOT on our food. I have only found them extensively listed on shampoos, conditioners and body lotions (the things I have looked at so far). The strange thing about that for me was that two of the items I was looking at, a shampoo and a bubble bath were CLEAR in colour and yet they had several dyes in them.

Is your friend's child PA?

Could it be a soy allergy developing?

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Apr 28, 2004

Heather, Sorry to hear about your friend's son's reaction. I agree though that it probably was not a PA reaction with the Smarties. Maybe he had something earlier and had a delayed reaction or maybe he is allergic to a dye or another ingredient. It's kind of like me and soups made by Campbell's. I have no idea what it is but all of Campbell's creamy soups make me react. I've gotten tested for just about everything in the soups and nothing has turned up. Let us know if you find out anything else from your friend. Take care