Shine comes off most cake glitter

Most ‘non toxic’ cake glitter is a form of plastic
Most ‘non toxic’ cake glitter is a form of plastic

You probably wouldn’t dream of eating the glitter sold in stationery and craft shops – but almost all the glitter sprinkled on iced cupcakes has no business inside a human body either.

Confusingly‚ the labels say “non toxic”‚ which leads many bakers and consumers to believe that the glitter is edible.

Two years ago the USA’s Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about non-edible decorative glitters and dusts being promoted for use on foods‚ saying there was no difference between craft and cake glitter.

SA’s health authorities have yet to take such a stand‚ and there is relatively little awareness that most cake glitter on sale in baking goods stores is a form of plastic.

But it is not just the composition of cake glitter which is now called into question – it is all products used to create “edible” decorations.

This week the UK’s Food Safety Agency issued an alert about the entire range of products made by South Africa’s most prominent cake decorations company Rolkem‚ saying it had “failed to provide assurances of product safety”.

Earlier this year a batch of two Rolkem gold products was recalled from the UK market after being found to contain high levels of copper.

Rolkem CEO Andries Kemp said the agency issued the alert because the company could not meet the “unrealistic” deadlines imposed on it to produce test certificates for its 400 products.

“We shall supply the test certificates to all our stockists locally and internationally as soon as we receive them from the laboratory‚” he said.

“We are confident that all products will test clear.”

Despite Rolkem and other local manufacturers insisting that they stipulate that the glitter should be applied only to decorations that are removed before the cakes are eaten‚ it would appear that message has been poorly communicated between factory and retail shelf.

Wayne Sher‚ owner of Joburg-based cake decorations company Aragon‚ has been very vocal about the misuse of inedible‚ non-food grade cake decorations.

“People . . . have no idea that they are really not a food item‚” he said.

“They have a right to know!”

Sher’s sentiments are shared by Ian Yoell of Cape Town‚ whose company Nicoletta produces a range of food-grade shimmers.

He regularly has products on the local market tested by an independent lab‚ and they are invariably found to be plastic.

“The product should not be eaten‚ it should not be used on products that are going to be eaten! It is that simple‚” he said.

Yoell has raised the issue with the health department since 2014‚ to no avail.