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FDA banned ingredients linked to cancer – but they are still all over shelves

I went into a news stand at the airport with my 2-year old daughter trying to occupy her for a moment before our flight. The next thing you know, she was playing with the packages of M&Ms, Skittles, and Twix – just going back and forth, admiring all the colorful packages. They were all lined up at her eye level and I can only imagine how captivating they looked. She’s two, you know? 

Then I said to her, “Hey, I just want to let you know, these things are yucky, and these are things that Mom is teaching people about. The ingredients in them are not good for your body.” 

She just kind of looked at me, and goes, “Yucky?” And I go, “Yup, yucky.”

Now anytime we see those candies… guess what she says?

The food industry doesn’t want people to know the truth. They want you to believe everything in stores is “safe” to eat…

But the safety of our food system is a lie.

There are products (many marketed towards children) on store shelves right now with ingredients that have been banned by the FDA… and no one is doing anything to prevent it. Please share this information with those that you love, here’s what’s happening… 

The FDA recently banned 7 ingredients used to make “artificial flavors” that have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals (1-2). These ingredients were originally approved in 1964, so have been in our food for decades. This ban would have never happened if it wasn’t for the FDA petition and lawsuit filed by several consumer protection organizations who put persistent pressure on the FDA to take action (3-4).

These ingredients all fall under the term “artificial flavors” on the ingredient list.

The banned ingredients are benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, pyridine, and styrene* – but you won’t see them on an ingredient label

So any product that lists artificial flavors as an ingredient may contain them, but food manufacturers are not required to tell you.

Artificial flavors are complex chemical mixtures made in a lab using various substances like crude oil or coal tar, and can contain upwards of 100 ingredients (including those just banned). Food companies don’t need to tell you anything about the ingredients actually in their artificial flavors – they just slap “artificial flavors” on the ingredient label – and we are left in the dark about what we are really eating.

Any food company using artificial flavors has been notified of the 7 ingredients banned, but the FDA has given them TWO YEARS to remove them from their artificial flavors.

In the meantime, these banned ingredients are still on store shelves, and may be in ANY product with artificial flavors.

The FDA and the industry trade group representing these companies has refused to disclose which companies use the banned flavors. And there haven’t been any companies voluntarily telling the public either, because they are not required to.

In other words – if you see “artificial flavors” on an ingredient label, it could contain these banned cancerous substances and food companies are not going to warn you. Up until October 9, 2020 this is perfectly legal!

This is what’s wrong with our food system. Food companies are allowed to continue selling you products with ingredients known to cause cancer in animal studies – without any warning. It’s so outrageous.

The FDA doesn’t care either. In their statement about the banned flavors they said,”rigorous scientific analysis has determined that they do not pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use. The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposure and low risk.”

Should we have cancerous ingredients in our food in any amount? Why take that risk? What about children, who may be more susceptible to these substances? How much are we really eating if we eat multiple products with artificial flavors each day? This is not being addressed. This is why I wrote my new book, Feeding You Lies. You can’t trust food companies or government agencies to care about our health. 


Feeding You Lies

Available in stores everywhere

As soon as I learned that the FDA banned these ingredients, I started investigating which food brands were using artificial flavors… Doritos, Cheetos, Jell-O, Oreos, Trix, and Lucky Charms are all spiked with them. But there is one food corporation that I noticed as a BIG offender.

Mars Wrigley has artificial flavors in almost every candy and gum they make…

  • M&Ms
  • Snickers
  • Twix
  • Skittles
  • MilkyWay
  • 3 Musketeers
  • Dove Promises
  • Starburst
  • Eclipse gum
  • 5 Gum
  • Big Red gum
  • Doublemint gum
  • Juicy Fruit gum
  • Extra gum
  • Orbit gum
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Lifesavers

My team reached out to Mars about the use of these banned substances in their artificial flavors…

They admitted they’re in the process of removing the banned ingredients from their artificial flavors. This means, yes, these ingredients shown to cause cancer in animals have been used in their products. They are complying with FDA regulations requiring companies to remove them within 2 years. 

Our next question was…

What products are these in? Are these banned ingredients in M&Ms? What about Snickers? Skittles? Eclipse Gum?

Here’s the kicker. They refused to tell us.

Their reasoning is that they didn’t want to give us inaccurate information because they are in the process of removing them. We then asked how long they anticipate it will take, and they simply said “as fast as possible”. How fast this is, is anyone’s guess. Remember, the FDA has given food companies two years to stop making products with these flavors – so this does not include products already on store shelves, vending machines, or in your own house. As candy and gum has a very long shelf life, it is likely that even after two years some of the products with these banned ingredients will still be on shelves.

Mars should tell the public which products currently contain the ingredients banned by the FDA… 

Since they won’t, you might want to err on the side of caution and just avoid ALL of their products with artificial flavors. And that isn’t the only reason to avoid these products – as they are filled with other risky additives like artificial dyes (5) and BHT (6)… 

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I can’t help but think of all of the children exchanging these candies with their friends…

Remember – it’s not just this candy and gum. Any product you see at the store with “Artificial Flavors” may have the banned ingredients in it. 

The best way to change the food industry is with a grassroots movement. This is why I’ve done petitions – they are quick and effective at making people aware as to what is really in the food they’re buying. This is also why I recommend voting with your dollars by refusing to buy products from companies who are poisoning us for profit with cheap and dangerous ingredients. How you choose to spend your money is VERY powerful. 

On the other hand, expecting our government agencies (like the FDA and the USDA) to take action often takes decades of intense pressure. Consumer advocacy groups spent YEARS pushing the FDA to take action on these carcinogenic flavors – and even had to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals (4) to force them to do anything. We cannot rely on the FDA to protect us. And we certainly can’t trust Big Food to self-police. After all, the food industry has consistently shown that it will only remove dangerous and unhealthy ingredients when they are forced to do so.

Please SHARE THIS POST and warn your friends that it is a lie that everything on the shelf is safe.



P.S. If this makes you as MAD as I am, you need to read my latest book. It blows the lid off the lies we are being told about our food…


Feeding You Lies

Available in stores everywhere


* Styrene is the only one banned that is no longer used by the food industry.

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34 responses to “FDA banned ingredients linked to cancer – but they are still all over shelves

  1. Can you please join LinkedIn? This is the only social media I have and I would love to post your info. Always valuable….thanks for what you do!!

  2. You are such a great mom. Thank you so much for your dedication in helping to improve our food supply. It is people like you that really can make a difference.

  3. Thanks for this work. I’m lined up to take a friend today around to the local stores hunting for last holiday’s candy at reduced prices. Maybe upon seeing this article she’ll change her mind.

    Thanks again,

  4. Vani Hari, Keep blazing and spreading the truth.
    I just looked up one ingredient Titanium Dioxide since I remember reading that particular ingredient within the contents of Christmas chocolate candies at a clinic I was working as a locum tenens. I passed on the offer.
    Evidence suggests that some nanoparticles may induce toxic effects in your brain and cause nerve damage, and some may also be carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says the dyes – used in a commercially prepared foods ranging from candy to breakfast cereals and salad dressing – present a “rainbow of risks” and can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and even cancer. This information was posted in 2010 and the FDA has done nothing to stop this onslaught upon the American public. Just like you I am out there talking with people about eating right and avoiding processed, commercialized and contaminated foods and water. We can win this war one day at a time, one person at a time and one meal at a time.
    God bless you, your family and your work.

    1. We all need to make YOUTUBE videos with a very eye catching Title!
      More people are on YT than any other platform that requires a connection.

  5. I’m going to share this report with my 10-year-old niece. She told me recently that she had a bite of a friend’s snowcone, and felt terrible afterwards. We then had a talk about artificial colors and flavors, and her eyes got BIG. We usually let her take whatever candy the kids at school give out, and then switch it out at home for the good stuff. Since I’ve had an organic dark chocolate company since before she was born, she’s been brought up on it, and knows the difference. It’s maddening that the food industry in general shows so little care for people in general & children in particular.

    1. Who’s the organic dark chocolate company? I only eat dark chocolate and would much prefer organic. Thanks

  6. Well, with Skittles still having these artificial flavors, I guess we should be aware even more of our burgers, steaks, and ribs, since they are unabashedly fed to cattle! And it’s the red ones, with that wonderful Red food coloring we know is healthy…

  7. I like all the healthy info from your site, as I am trying to keep up my healthy eating. I share everything on my facebook page that is important for the public to view and help give them a step forward for those who choose to do so. Blessings to you and the courage to go forward to show the world what we’ve been up against. I will spread the news too. Thank you

    1. Real food! Organic raw fruit and veggies to start with. Low or no sugar treats. Dark chocolate with stevia (no sugar) from Lily’s, as an example without soy lecithin (mostly gmo). Much to choose from as long as it’s not processed food.

  8. I think you are an awesome mom. I will say it for you AWWW. I tried many years ago to prevent my 7 children from eating this stuff and failed. Teachers, principles, superintendents of schools, peditricians poo poohed me. I was blocked stepped on told I was full of B.S. An awful parent for not allowing all 7 to have candy, the other problem was they saw other kids having everything I tried to prevent them from having and would steal change or money so they could be like their peers and yet all 7 had ADHD and symptoms worse every time our children ate all this nasty stuff. Oh but I was full of B.S. Behavior impossible to control when they ate this nasty or as you told your daughter YUCKY STUFF. I can only hope for your sanity that “GOD” will guide you through to keep your daughter or any other children you might have in the future safe. I was a bad parent for not being able to control our children’s bad behavior that was from all the artificial flavors and coloring. Big Food and lobbyiest have and continue to prevent the American public from knowing the truth. They will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden they are the satan’s of America right along with Big Pharma, FDA, EPA, Big AG chemical companies all tech companies there only mission profit before human life. All of this started back in the late 50’s and kept on getting worse and is now pandemic. As an R.N. I know and no company will ever shut me up.

    1. I know I’m going to have a tough time keeping all these types of ingredients away from her – they are everywhere and in everything – but the best I can do is teach her young and hope she’ll lead by example 🙂 If I don’t have it in the house, she can’t eat it – that’s half the battle!

      1. I grew up with mom making everything from scratch. Nothing frozen or premade at home. I remember shelling peas and picking carrots, picking tomatoes and buying eggs and butter at the farm. I didn’t try a TV dinner until I was nineteen. Tasted like salted greasy mush. Never had them again!

      2. It’ll depend on the support system from school and other places she will end up going (such as a friends or another family members house). We were lucky enough to have a school that would bring treats in just for them. The other kids in the class got to try them as well but the teachers at the school got my kids options (organic candies or chips) they could eat especially around during the Valentine’s and Halloween when a lot of kids brought in candy to give to other students. This may happen up to 5th-6th and some few amount of cases possibly up to 7th or 8th grade depending on the school.

        When it came to my (five) kids birthdays we ended up having a whole set of organic cupcakes made without added refined sugars and were without milk/dairy, nuts, or eggs since a few members in the class had allergies to those- as well as my kids and they turned out to be a big hit. If the birthday was for another student the teachers in their class made sure that they never got the cupcake, candy, or cookie that was being handed out.

        Our school also had pizza parties at times and I always supplied their own pizza that was homemade for them to have, so they wouldn’t feel left out and because they aren’t able to eat wheat, gluten, milk/dairy, soy, meats (incl fish/shellfish), or eggs due to food allergies.

        In the lunchroom they had the basic hot meals most schools had, but they also had a salad bar which actually used organic products in the salad bar (leafy greens, vegetables, fruits). They also gave chips out to the kids during lunchtime and sometimes they were non organic but there was always an organic option.

        Letting the school aware of what you wouldn’t like her to have would be a good step to take and to make sure it’s ensured and to be aware of certain things that may come up in school (such as a pizza party, or certain holidays)- especially when she’s younger. Going to friends around this time you can always let their parents know what you wouldn’t have her eat/bring snack options when she goes.

        When she gets into middle school or high school may be a bit more of a challenge. We were pretty lucky during these times as well but by middle school may kids went to friends houses and the parents kept an eye but not as strongly as it was in elementary school and for high school sometimes parents wouldn’t even be home- so this puts pressure on the kid when you are there with four kids and they all order a pizza or munching on a bunch of chips/snacks.

        I still have three in Elementary school and the school is still great surrounding the whole what not to give them. My other one is still a toddler and the other is in first year of high school.

    2. It’s really unfortunate. Schools will give kids practically anything even when told not to (unless the parents have a note from the doctor about allergies or certain foods not to be given- that’s what our school in the area does even if it is an intolerance.)

      Many of the snacks/treats given in schools are candy products (Twix, Milky Way, Snickers, Kit Kat, and most other common chocolates, Skittles, Starburst, Lifesaver Gummies, other gummy candies, etc. For chip products usually Flaming Hot Cheetoes, regular Cheetos, Takis Fuego and/or Nitro chips, Cheez It, Doritos (different options), Fritos, among many others.

      In my experience schools don’t always listen when a parent or someone says not to give a particular food to a kid.

      My situation is a little different. I have a child with PKU and there are several foods she shouldn’t be eating (animal products, beans, lentils, soy, all nuts, many different seeds, among many others.) She has food allergies with animal products (milk/dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish, meat, and gelatin, and derived foods/ingredients from animal products) as well as peanut allergy, tree-nut allergy, wheat, and soy allergy. She can’t even have foods made in the same area/place as those foods. While in school she was given beans and this caused a lot of issues. Not only can this cause vomiting, digestive issues, and body pains for her it can also cause a seizure to happen or intellectual disabilities (if over a period of time). She already has a mild intellectual disability along with Autism. It didn’t take long for us to find out what the school was doing.

      Eventually we had her taken out of that school. They avoided her food allergies but never saw a point in avoiding beans, lentils, peas- which I know are healthy foods but they aren’t safe for her and considering the way these were made probably weren’t so healthy (lots of oils, grease, salt, sugars = probably a ton of added ingredients).

      She had an allergic reaction (required Epi-Pen) a few times at school but the school- the adults never noticed a thing. We were lucky a student who was at the school knew what was starting to happen and was able to give her the epi pen injection.

      We eventually had to leave the school because of the lack of treatment that was happening to her. It is quite confusing to me since it was only happening to her. There was five other kids in that school at the time with food allergies, or certain foods that are unable to eat for other reasons but they weren’t getting the same treatment.

  9. Years ago my mom decided to grow her own fruits and veggies to avoid the chemicals sprayed at commercial sites. Right after that, news reported that homegrown is bad as the rain contained acids and brings down airborne toxins. Scrubbing the edibles was good but chemicals could be absorbed into the food. Organic food is good if untouched by rain. Airborne chemicals can touch them unless in a sealed environment. Commercial warehouses and other businesses pump out smoke which contains toxins. Airborne toxicity and the germs land everywhere. The solution is food grown in a sterile environment or lab. Costly but effective.

  10. Two years is an extremely long time. When many different banned ingredients in foods happened in the UK the time for several was way less than that.

    It’s a good and bad thing these ingredients are now banned. Good more fake and yucky stuff is getting out of foods but bad because most likely food companies will replace with with stuff that is just as bad (if not worse).

  11. Another great article! Thank you, Vani, for your bravery with exposing these Truth Bombs. Sorry you have to put up with so much crappy Push Back from Big Food. BTW, you should do a blog post about There are 1000 locations worldwide, and a lot of them are in our local malls. I just looked at their (online) ingredient list of all their products, and it is MIND BLOWING. They even put HFCS in their plain black tea! #cRaZy! They claim that all their products are “of the highest quality”. What a JOKE! I wouldn’t even trust their WATER!

  12. This junk food shouldn’t even have the word “food” in it. Just because you put it in your mouth doesn’t make it food.

    After changing my diet to not eating any processed food, once in a blue moon I’ll get lurid into eating one of these junk foods as a treat. I expect it to taste like I remember it, but all I taste are chemicals and how overly sickly sweet their are. When you eat processed food, you taste buds become numb. When all you eat is real food and then eat something that is processed, you taste the fakeness and you want to spit it out. If you don’t buy it, they won’t make it.

  13. I’m actually against vaccines for this specific reason! These “artificial flavors” are just tools by the government to shorten the lifespans of the lower class families who can only affor junkfood and it is a way to lessen the effects of overpopulation, thus candy and artificially flavored foods are a crime against humanity and against God. But God is just another method for control but it is used for the large religious organizations that manipulate and harm our children and the populace of Europe and the world, and the effects of this can be seen in Brexit because the Pope has corrupted the minds of the people in order to make them want to seperate and wither. As Martin Luther King once said, ” A house that stands divided is weak”.

  14. I’m sure “Natural flavors” aren’t much better.
    Could you please write about those as well?

  15. Big Food & Big Pharma are being allowed to poison the citizens of America and no one will stand up to them! People are afraid of you for speaking the truth … that’s why some are haters, BUT don’t stop what you’re doing … we need you out there to be our voice! Thanks for putting your neck out for us!

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