Photo by Jennifer A Smith via Getty Images

Maybe make a glitter-free cake next time?

Tim Nelson
Updated: December 17, 2018

With the holidays here and Paul Hollywood still giving out handshakes to British people on Netflix, baked goods are definitely on our minds these days. And while so-called edible glitter is an effective way to jazz up cakes and other confections, but you might want to be careful before actually ingesting that stuff.

Yep. As it turns out, not all “edible” glitter is actually, uh, edible. That’s according to a new warning from the FDA, which recently put out a video reminding us that not all decorative products are as delicious (or as safe for your insides) as you might think. Terrifying!

In the eyes of the FDA, a truly edible glitter is derived from "sugar, acacia (gum arabic), maltodextrin, cornstarch, and color additives specifically approved for food use, including mica-based pearlescent pigments and FD&C colors." If it doesn’t feature those sorts of ingredients, there’s a good chance that you just adorned your cake with a bunch of microplastics. And it should go without saying, but microplastics are not great to eat.

Luckily, this is the kind of thing that can be easily sorted out with a little bit of attention to detail. A truly edible glitter will, first of all, ideally mention that it’s edible on the packaging. Whereas a glitter that isn’t edible will likely be labeled as “non-toxic.” While the absence of toxic materials is reassuring, it’s still probably pretty bad for your insides.

The most surefire way to tell, though, is patently obvious once you think about it: edible glitter will feature a list of ingredients, some of which (ideally) are mentioned in that FDA quote above. The stuff you shouldn’t eat won’t have ingredients, since the manufacturer doesn’t consider it to be food. Pretty simple stuff.

So there you have it. Enjoy a holiday season free of uninentionally ingested microplastics by confirming that your edible cake glitter is, in fact, edible. You’ll be glad you did.

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