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Glitter and ‘luster dust’ used on baked goods may be toxic or inedible: CDC

Photo: different_nata/iStockphoto

Atlanta — Some food-decorating products, including glitter and dust products, may contain high levels of copper, lead and other harmful heavy metals, warns a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the popular trend of using these items – known as “luster dust” – to decorate cakes, cupcakes and candies, the CDC warns that many of them aren’t edible and may be toxic. These products are commonly available online or in craft and bakery supply stores.

Under the Food and Drug Administration Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, food additives must meet certain safety and labeling guidelines. Even if products are labeled as nontoxic, they might not be intended for consumption and should be used only as decoration. In January 2018, the FDA issued an advisory that urged home and commercial bakers to only use products specifically manufactured to be edible.


According to the CDC, product labeling should indicate that the item isn’t safe for human consumption. The products also should include a full list of ingredients, and bakers should carefully check the list to ensure they can be consumed. Some of the products are sold under names such as petal dust, shimmer powder, sparkle dust, twinkle dust, highlighter and disco dust.

The CDC notes that educating consumers, commercial bakers and public health professionals about the potential hazards in food preparation items is essential to prevent illness and unintentional poisonings from toxic metals and other inedible ingredients.

The report was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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