Contraband Confection: UK Food Standards Spike American Sprinkles

Contraband Confection: UK Food Standards Spike American Sprinkles


In a turn of events that sounds like a premise to a Christmas TV movie, a bakery in the north of England has gone public with news that their favoured sprinkles – a signature component of their raspberry-glazed doughnut cookie – have been banned.

Dubbed #sprinklegate on social media, the kerfuffle has its source in the red dye used in the American-made sprinkles: Erythrosine, or E127. In the UK, E127 is only cleared for use in maraschino or candied cherries; its appearance in the sprinkles renders the colourful accents verboten.

For such a seemingly low stakes situation, the loss of the sprinkles has resulted in a major headache for Rich Myers, founder of Leeds’ Get Baked bakery.

“Myers said he bought the offending sprinkles from a UK wholesaler, and said he had no idea there was any issue until West Yorkshire Trading Standards visited the business on September 30. ‘I thought it was a joke at first, I thought it was someone pulling a prank,’ he said on Thursday.

‘It’s quite an intimidating process really, being interviewed by Trading Standards. It’s not something you expect to happen when you run a little bakery. […]

For now, the bakery has swapped the sprinkles for icing sugar. ‘British sprinkles just aren’t good enough, they’re just not worth using,’ said Myers. ‘Until I can find a sprinkle that’s legal that is worth using we’ll just continue to use something else.’”

As food-makers ourselves, we at DFC recognize the importance of being careful about ingredients. Though it’s an inconvenience to Mr Myers, the banning of his sprinkles is actually a food safety success story – pointing toward how lax American standards can be compared to other countries’ standards.

That the dye is okayed for candied cherries in the UK is a bit nonsensical, as, I assume, more of it would end up inside a consumer per treat… But then I’m not an expert, nor am I a representative of West Yorkshire Trading Standards (who in the Christmas movie version I imagine to be played by Dabney Coleman, opposite Idris Elba as The Baker). Hopefully, Britain’s industry will kick in and fill the sprinkle gap with a better – and legal – product Until then, I’d happily put up with icing sugar!