M&Ms – The true love and hate story

M&Ms were once my best friend. I used to eat them in the evenings (mostly at week ends) when I was watching a film. I really loved them in cinemas.

Nowadays I completely changed my view on these sweets. And no wonder why. Read below the reasons for changing my love story with these sweeties to a semi hate one ;).

M&Ms being fabricated with dangerous dye

A bit of M&Ms background

Funny enough, M&Ms have been produced during the second world war. To be more precise they were created in 1941.

Soldiers complained that they could not eat their chocolate bars because they kept melting. If you wonder what the two Ms means, here it is:

  • the first M is after Forrest E. Mars, Sr.
  • the second M is after Willian F. R. Murrie (the son of Hershey chocolate’s president).

Since their introduction to the battlefield of WW1, M&Ms have been introduced to more than 100 countries. You can find 33 different fillings of this tasty chocolate type sweet.

When did M&Ms first face trouble?

Red M&M’s were the first chocolate sweet to face trouble. In fact, it was banned in 1976. The reason was the dye used to make them was a carcinogen.

The red is better to know as FD&C Red #2. Or under the name of Amaranth, FD&C Red No. 2, E123, a dye for the food industry.

Though being removed in the 70s, the dye was allowed back in 1983 and used to produce candies. At the time, a strong movement pushed heavily to get these dyes out of our sweeties and any other food.

However, the CSPO recommended otherwise. The recommendation was that any product containing the dye or a harmful ingredient must show this on the label. But how can a child know what this means. Many do not read yet.

Is the chemicals added to M&Ms dangerous?

Dr. Jacobson who works for the FDI  insisted that: “The evidence that these petrochemicals worsen some children’s behavior is convincing. I hope that the committee will advise the agency to both require warning notices and encourage companies voluntarily to switch to safer natural colorings.”

And the response from M&M’s was simple. They listed on their label: Milk chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, skim milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, salt, artificial color), sugar, corn starch, >1% corn syrup, dextrin, artificial colors (Blue 1 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2), gum acacia.

When you read this, it is easy to get lost. Are they any harmful ingredients? How do you know? Well, it is simple and here is the list showing the different ones that are harmful.

List of dangerous chemicals

Soy lecithin – If you do not know this, then let me tell you that 93% of soy is GMO. If you eat these, it will affect your fertility, it may cause breast cancer, but worse it may also lead to cerebral abnormalities. Still, the sweetie makers use it.

Blue #1 or better known as Brilliant Blue FCF (Blue 1) – It is an organic compound that is classified as a triarylmethane dye. Basically, it is the dye that makes our M&Ms blue. This dye causes low blood pressure, increases hay fever, hives, is behind many allergic reactions, as well as asthma;

Blue #2 – Same as blue 1 really; they just differ in the number. With this one, you get a pronounced blue color. Similar to its counterpart number 1, this blue chemical increases brain tumors in lab rats, it contributes to abnormal cell development, but worse it can cause hyperactivity in children. Do you still want to buy M&Ms for your children after reading these two points?

Red #40 – By now you know that this is the red color sweetie. This dye causes a number of swelling around the mouth. It also damages your DNA and has a negative effect such as hives and cancer.

Yellow #6 – Here it is the yellow chemical. The yellow sweetie causes hyperactivity. It is also guilty of promoting diarrhea, allergic reactions, vomiting, migraines, nettle rash and unfortunately swelling of the skin.

Yellow #5 – Same as yellow 6 but with different side effects. It causes hyperactivity, led to more allergic reactions and unfortunately cancer;

Gum acacia – I am going to say much about this one, but it can cause nausea. It is the reason behind bloating, gasses and loose stool.

Will Mars stop doing this?

The company behind M&Ms know about these side effects. Knowing does not mean taking action. Unfortunately, Mars did not stop using harmful dyes. They, in fact, got them approved safe by the FDA. How did they do this is beyond my knowledge, but this is real life.

Note that these chemicals can be replaced by natural produce. These do not harm you. But there is a cost to this.

Regrettably, it may be that Mars does not earn enough money. At the end of the day, they only made $33 billion dollars in 2015. So maybe this is too little to change the company’s dye products.

Well, Mars has made a statement in February 2016. They stated that they will no longer use artificial colors in each of its candy products.

This is good news, but I still fail to see when they will apply this to their full candy line. Keep checking their labels and when you do not understand something, just put it down. It just means that they are hiding something.


Mars is definitely making changes to their production lines. However, this needs to be more transparent. As long as you will find unknown things on the labeling, then it is best to stay away from candies.

I am sure that one day we will all understand the labeling and that manufacturers will use good products for us, till that day, I will my own sweeties. They are good, they are tasty and they are not full of chemicals.

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See you soon in another Omigy post.

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