Beware of the mini-monsters in your kids’ trick-or-treat bags!

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October 15, 2013

Even if you’re usually a conscientious, ingredient-reading food shopper, you need to be especially wary of Halloween and the witches’ brew of abominable additives that can sneak inside your house under cover of darkness.

Listed below are some common Halloween candies that should be removed from your trick-or-treaters’ bags as soon as they come in the door. Yes, there will be whining and complaining, but no kid should be consuming the kind of horrific stuff some of these seemingly inoffensive goodies harbor.

Goetz’s Cow Tales; Hershey’s Whatchmacallit; Wrigley’s Lifesavers:

Topping the list of noxious ingredients in this trio of  “treats” is high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, the laboratory-created sweetener that took first place honors in our Read Your Labels campaign this year, and for good reason.

The scientific rap sheet on HFCS is getting longer all time.  High fructose consumption in general, and HFCS in particular, have recently been linked to a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes – especially for kids. The additive has also been identified in studies as contributing to weight gain and obesity; hampering brain function and increasing levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Most recently, obesity expert and pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert H. Lustig stated in an affidavit for a case against the manufacturers of HFCS that the additive is a “significant factor” in bringing about type 2 diabetes, does damage to the intestinal lining, creates liver insulin resistance and blocks the “leptin signal” that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat.

Peter Paul Almond Joy; Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews:

Don’t be “tricked” by  the “zero trans fats” listing on the nutrition label of these candies, because what lurks inside is partially hydrogenated oils (also found in the Cow Tails and Whatchamacallit bar), the primary dietary source of artery-clogging trans fat. It’s an ingredient that all health professionals and experts agree poses a major cardiovascular threat, both by decreasing “good” HDL cholesterol and increasing the “bad” LDL variety.

Wrigley’s Skittles; Mars M&M’s; Just Born’s Mike and Ike

What all three of these confections have in common are their own ‘costumes’ consisting of artificial colors, and lots of them. The Skittles alone contain ten different fake hues, which are made from coal tar and petroleum extracts. These additives are widely acknowledged to cause hyperactivity in some children, which is why since 2010 European regulatory officials have required products containing these unnatural coloring agents to contain a warning label saying that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Wrigley’s Orbit for kids

This “sugarfree gum” sure sounds like something any health-conscious mom might approve of, since it claims to “help protect teeth.” But it’s actually a brain-eating mini-monster in disguise, since it contains aspartame, one of a class of chemicals known as  ‘excitotoxins” that are actually capable of exciting certain brain cells to death – especially in kids whose blood-brain barrier isn’t fully developed. Since aspartame’s shady approval in 1981 by a political appointee at the Food and Drug Administration, thousands upon thousands of health-related complaints about it have been lodged with the agency ranging from migraines to dizziness to vision problems. Now that’s really scary!

Nestle’s Raisinets

They may be called “chocolate covered sunshine” on the box, but the real thing coating this movie-theater favorite is the “confectioner’s glaze” which is obtained from a chemical called “shellac” secreted by the female lac bug (also found in the Mike and Ike product). This ingredient also goes by the name pharmaceutical, resinous, food and natural “glaze.”

If the word “shellac” sound familiar to you, that’s because this resin is one and the same as the substance used to coat furniture, as well as being an ingredient in nail polish.

Of course, if you are a regular label reader, you’ve no doubt seen these same ghastly concoctions added to lots of other processed foods, from soup to bread – many of which are are marketed as being good for us. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re not apt to be fooled by such claims. But Halloween is the one time of year that, despite all your customary precautions, your kids can wind up gobbling these invisible goblins if you don’t watch out!