In years past, I’d wait until October 30th before I hit the market for Halloween candy. But I now know that’s a sad trick, because conventional candy is full of food dyes: Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, have all been linked to allergic reactions and behavioral problems in children.
The only way to avoid these artificial food dyes is to buy USDA certified organic foods, which are guaranteed by our government not to contain synthetic ingredients. But organic Halloween candy has traditionally been hard to find—especially the night before the big day. Not anymore!
It’s easy to find Halloween candy that looks & tastes like our childhood favorites, but is made without artificial flavors & colors, GMOs—or child slave labor. Sadly, this is not true of Hershey’s. This year I found quick-delivery Halloween candy options in the form of Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate Bars (only the big bars are available at Amazon, but there are snack sizes on the Equal Exchange site), YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Fantastic Fruit Bubble Gum and Unreal Candy, which is available in stores like Target, CVS and Ralphs.
Free of corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, GMOs, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, this Halloween candy looks and tastes just like the familiar snacks we grew up with—think lollipop’s, bubble gum, M&Ms, and peanut butter cups—without the crap that makes them so bad for our kids.
I especially like that these Halloween candy options are food dye free. Not only are food dyes dangerous, they’re discriminatory: After European manufacturers were required foods to display a food dye warning label in 2012, they began to substitute natural colors for dyes—but only in Europe. Nestle, for example, announced that they were phasing out use of all artificial food additives from their entire confectionery line in the U.K., but not the U.S.
Even if you go for conventional Halloween candy after all, please boycott Hershey. Although major candy manufacturers such as Cadbury and Nestlé have shifted to third-party certification in order to more accurately assess labor problems, last year a report from the The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University specifically held Hershey—the biggest U.S. chocolate manufacturer—responsible for the continued prevalence of child labor, forced labor, child trafficking, and verbal, physical and sexual harassment in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where the company sources much of its cocoa.
Buying candy for kids made by child slaves? That tragic irony is so easily avoided.