Can you eat glitter? The short answer is no, but you can eat edible glitter
But just what does edible glitter mean?
Edible glitter is an actual thing. I don’t know about you guys, but with the holidays approaching my Pinterest boards are filling up with all kinds of yummy looking desserts.
I don’t mean the basic chocolate chip cookie or pumpkin pie recipes. Yawn.
I’m talking about the cakes, ice cream and cookies and homemade chocolates coated in so much edible glitter they look like they fell out of a unicorn’s butt and bounced straight into a Lisa Frank fever dream.
All That Glitters Is Not Food: The Truth About Edible Glitter
Edible glitter! What a time we live in!
Before shopping for wedding cupcakes six years ago, I didn’t even know edible glitter was a thing! And now, according to the baking goddesses of Pinterest, I can candy coat just about anything in a thick layer of yummy non-toxic fairy dust!
I fantasize about walking into my family Christmas carrying one of these glorious sky-high glittering confections so perfect that even Great Aunt Mildred would be green with envy.
But I won’t.
Partially because I don’t have a Great Aunt Mildred but mostly because MOST ‘EDIBLE GLITTER’ ISN’T ACTUALLY EDIBLE.
If you Google edible glitter the first several results are from Wilton, a tried and true brand for all your cake decorating needs.
However their edible glitters look more like slightly pearly confetti.
Shiny? Yes. But it lacks that metallic mirror ball gleam.
But you know what they do have? FDA approval as a food product because it’s made of food. (Gum arabic, to be exact.)
But if you run across an “edible glitter” so shiny it looks like a stripper shook out her thong on your cupcakes, odds are the only thing that glitter and food have in common is that it is IDENTICAL to the glitter in your kid’s candy cane Christmas card crafts.
Look closely at your color additives like “Disco Dust”, a particularly prevalent pseudo-brand that comes up when you search for “Edible glitter.”
Many websites take care not to include the words “Edible” or “Food Safe” in its product description. Admittedly some do go out of their way to let you know it is for decorative purposes only. It also won’t list an ingredient list.
Then they will helpfully instruct you on where to use said glitter. For example: Fondant (Cool, that stuff is terrible and no one eats it.) on top of cupcake icing (wait…you mean on top of the only reason people even EAT cupcakes?), or brush onto cookies and chocolates (FFS!).
The best the Disco Dust and its pearly accomplice Luster Dust can claim is “Non-Toxic”. Play-Doh is Non-Toxic but no one is feeding it to their kids for a meal.
This topic is something of a hot-button issue.
Lots of people will say, “Why are you freaking out? My kid accidentally eats glitter products all the time.” or “Surely if it’s sold to be used on or near food it has to come from a clean, food safe factory.”
Nope. That “edible glitter” comes from the same wholesalers that sell scrap booking supplies. The best they can honestly put on the labels is “Non-Toxic”. It’s full of mica based pearlescent pigments and in no way going through the food and drug administration.
But “Non-Toxic” just means it’s not poisonous, not that it won’t cause harm. People with IBS, crohn’s disease, or any number of chronic intestinal disorders where they are warned away from consuming tiny hard particles like strawberry seeds are in the line of fire.
Sure most of those people are used to watching what they eat. But if they are handed a glittering slice of designer cake at their niece’s wedding by the caterer?
You better believe Great Aunt Mildred is having her cake, (And spending a painful night on the toilet, too.)
See, we have it in our heads that no one would ever put something that was inedible onto something that is meant to be eaten. But in the era of likes and pins, folks have to keep upping their photography game.
A liberal sprinkling of craft glitter goes a long way in the upvote department.
So my suggestion for when you are trying to decide what kind of edible glitter bling your cake needs, read the descriptions and know the buzzwords.
Good: FDA Approved, Food Product
Bad: Non-Toxic, For Decoration Only
After that, the best thing to do is just make it yourself. The glitter not be quite as glam rock pixie dust, but it will at least be made out of food.
Suggested Homemade Edible Glitter Tutorials::