EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Amid peak Peep season, Consumer Reports is warning everyone that the popular Easter candy contains a cancer-causing chemical.
The consumer advocacy organization said a number of Peeps candies, including the iconic pink marshmallow chicks and bunnies, are made with Red Dye No. 3.
Red Dye No. 3 is typically used as a color additive in food, despite being banned from use in cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Consumer Reports is pushing the FDA to ban the use of the cancer-causing dye in food. It’s also urging Just Born Quality Confections, the maker of Peeps, to stop using Red Dye No. 3 in its candies.
“Parents should know that the purple and pink colored Peeps they may be putting in their kids’ Easter baskets are made with an ingredient that is a known carcinogen,” Consumer Reports senior staff scientist Dr. Michael Hansen said. “Just Born Quality Confections should stop making its iconic marshmallow treats with this dangerous food chemical since other less risky alternatives are readily available.”
Just Born Quality Confections addressed the concerns in a statement to USA Today, arguing that Red Dye No. 3 is an approved color additive and all of their candy is made in compliance with FDA regulations.
“We are continually exploring opportunities to provide expanded options for our consumers, including colors derived from natural sources that can deliver the same visual impact and stability as their certified counterparts,” Just Born Quality Confections added.
Studies have shown that Red Dye No. 3 can cause cancer in animals, according to Consumer Reports. There’s no definitive research to suggest the artificial dye causes cancer in humans, however, studies have found links to “hyperactivity and other neurobehavioral effects in children.”
“The widespread use of Red Dye No. 3 is particularly concerning since it is found in many products marketed to children who are especially at risk of developing health problems from exposure,” Hansen said. “It’s time for the FDA to protect public health by getting Red Dye No. 3 out of our food.”
The FDA has said it is reviewing Consumer Reports’ petition to ban the use of Red Dye No. 3 in food, which so far has more than 35,000 signatures.