Guidance on glitters and dusts for decorating food

Last updated:
13 May 2014
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The Food Standards Agency would like to remind food businesses of the legal requirements on dusts and glitters for food decoration. The guidance applies to food that is prepared at home as well as to commercially made products.

We are issuing this guidance following the successful prosecution of the company EdAble Art by West Yorkshire Trading Standards on 10 March 2014 for breaching food safety legislation by selling cake glitter which was not of the nature demanded and for supplying a non-approved food additive. EdAble Art was also successfully prosecuted by Durham Trading Standards on 17 April 2014 for similar offences under food safety legislation.

The key points are below.

Permitted additives should be clearly labelled

Any glitter or dust intended to be consumed as part of a food must be composed of permitted European Union (EU) additives or colours. These products will typically include permitted additives (such as mica and titanium dioxide) often mixed with food ingredients such as sugar or starch and must comply with the requirements of EU food additives legislation, Regulation 1333/2008. They should be labelled with both the:

  • name and E-number of the additive
  • statement ‘for food’ or ‘restricted use in food’, or a more specific reference to their intended food use (for example ‘edible lustre’)

Only glitter or dust clearly labelled in the above way should be applied to food for consumption.

When ‘non-toxic’ is on the label

Labels describing glitter and dusts as ‘non-toxic’ does not necessarily mean the products are safe to consume.

When ‘FDA approved’ is on the label

Glitters and dusts claimed as ‘FDA approved’ does not necessarily mean they comply with EU legislation.

When ‘for food contact’ should be on the label

Glitters composed of materials that have been safety-approved for contact with food can be applied to removable non-food items, such as artificial flowers, figurine and candle holders which are placed on food for decoration, provided they meet the requirements of food contact materials legislation (European Regulation 1935/2004). They should be labelled ‘For food contact’ (or alternative wording to indicate their use) and include instructions for use which should include an indication that they should not be consumed. The glitter on these products should be fixed so it does not fall onto the food, and it should be clear that the non-food items should be removed entirely from the food before consumption.

Other glitters and dusts that should not be used

Other glitters and dusts that are not EU-permitted additives, or which do not meet the requirements of food contact materials legislation, should not be used on any food or on any edible or non-edible items that come into contact with food.

When to contact your supplier

Food businesses, retailers of cake decorations and home bakers are advised to contact their supplier if they are unsure as to whether a dust or glitter is fit for the purpose for which they intend using it, and meets the requirements of the relevant legislation. If product labelling is not clear they may wish to obtain the following information in writing from their supplier:

If the glitter or dust is intended to be added directly to food or to cake icing or edible decorations:

  • Does the glitter or dust meet the requirements of food additives legislation i.e. is it composed of permitted EU additive/colours? If so which additives/colours?

If the glitter or dust is intended not to be added to food but to removable non-food items, eg decorations which are to be placed on the food:

  • Does the glitter or dust meet the requirements of EU food contact materials legislation?
  • Can the appropriate paperwork be made available to substantiate this (Declaration of Compliance if a plastic, for example)?