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Banned imported American candy and drinks amongst items removed from sale in Staffordshire

Posted on Monday 11th December 2023
3. American Candy Seizure NR

American candy recently seized

Banned imported American candy and drinks amongst items removed from sale in Staffordshire

Large quantities of American candy and drinks aimed at children that are not compliant, including those containing ingredients banned in this country, have been discovered in Staffordshire.

Trading Standards officers at Staffordshire County Council uncovered the items as part of a two-week-long operation to tackle the sales of unsafe imported foods, where food labelling is not in English and allergen ingredients have not been declared.

Over 50 shops and stores were inspected during the operation, with many unaware the products on sale contained ingredients banned in the UK, such as mineral oil, bleached flour or colourants.  The officers also seized multiple cans and bottles of soft drinks containing EDTA, known to be linked to kidney failure.

Over 3,300 items were confiscated including Mountain Dew, Dubble Bubble, Jolly Rancher gummies and hard candy, Hot Tamales & Swedish Fish, with a street value of over £8,000

The pilot project followed a number of incidents and intelligence received by the Food Standards Agency, who funded the operation.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council, said:

"Making sure imported food products being sold in stores around Staffordshire are safe and labelled correctly is an important part of our Trading Standards work.

"It's quite worrying to see so many products on sale that shouldn't be, many of which contain unauthorised ingredients and are targeted at children. 

"While the majority of foods are safe and most stores operate within the law, it is important that imported food is accurately labelled in English with the allergens declared.  We are seeing more and more illegal items being sold on social media websites and marketplaces, including counterfeit foods.  This has become even more prevalent as we approach Christmas and our message to shoppers is to always check product labels carefully before buying."

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has also issued a serious warning to parents in the run up to Christmas.  Chief Executive John Herriman said: “The UK has high food standards but this very much relies on Trading Standards to help ensure what is on sale complies with the law.

“It’s extremely worrying to learn that confectionary with child appeal is on sale in UK high streets, which could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer. Trading Standards work extremely hard to remove dangerous products from sale, but the popularity of these items is being increased by videos on social media platforms, such as TikTok. The increase in demand means importers are sending these through our ports and borders in the millions, and these are then being widely distributed and ending up in retail stores and in the hands of children.

“We ask that all persons placing these products on the market, including the suppliers and retailers, take their responsibilities seriously in this matter and urgently remove items from sale that contain unauthorised ingredients.  If shop owners are unsure of what items are safe to sell, they should contact their local Trading Standards service for support and advice.”

When consumers are checking whether the goods for sale are American imports or not, the easiest way is to look at how the weight is recorded.  In the UK we use grams and millilitres and in America it is fluid ounce and ounce.  If the labelling shows American weights, it is an import and the food labelling needs to be compliant with UK laws, with no unauthorised ingredients in the produce.

Further advice on food standards and allergens is available on the Staffordshire County Council website.  People can also report concerns over food standards by emailing ffah@staffordshire.gov.uk

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