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All That Glitters Is Not Food: The Truth About Edible Glitter

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.

edible glitter

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.

edible glitter

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!

edible glitter

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.

edible glitter

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.

edible glitter

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!).

disco dust and edible glitter

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.)

unicorn poop

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::

Gelatin Glitter

Sanding Sugar

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Indoor Winter Activities for Kids - The Organized Mom

Monday 18th of January 2021

[…] To make it into “snow” your kids will love adding silver and blue glitter and foil snowflakes. (or edible glitter!) […]

Maddi

Sunday 2nd of September 2018

Listen, not all edible glitter is bad! There is a entire company that was founded called Bakery Bling because of the plastic disco dusts and non-toxic edible cake glitters on the market. All of their products are FDA approved, sugar based and contain no plastic ever. There is even an all natural, vegan line. They are amazing! You should write about edible glitter that is TRULY edible like Bakery Bling. They come up with all kinds of crazy food ideas too! Their Instagram has all kinds of magic foods...they are responsible for the glitter churros at Disneyland and the loop and other stuff like that. Really awesome!

dang ky nhan hieu

Monday 21st of May 2018

Oh, no! I contacted her to make sure it was EDIBLE, not just non-toxic, before I ordered, and she confirmed that it was. I went to review how to apply it to the cake I’m making this week and the website is gone! Now what do I do??!?. I contacted her to inquire about the manufacture of the glitter and she claims to make it herself! It’s clearly craft glitter. I was able to exactly match, to the color, to the glitter at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s.

Sara

Saturday 23rd of September 2017

Thank you for this article and thank you for the detailed photos of edible vs. non toxic. There is a shop on Etsy, called Sweetly Elite, who is purposefully and maliciously marketing non toxic craft glitter as "edible". She says it's food safe and recommends using it in high volume, like the entire coverage of cakes. She even goes as far as to state in the FAQ that it contains gluten, maltodextrin, and is made in a facility that processes nuts. The glitter does not include an ingredients list, it simply has a homemade label on it. It is not FDA approved. I contacted her to inquire about the manufacture of the glitter and she claims to make it herself! It's clearly craft glitter. I was able to exactly match, to the color, to the glitter at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's. Are you aware of any recourse in this situation?? It seems very unsafe what she is doing.

Erin Schrad

Friday 19th of January 2018

I’ve been wondering what happened to this chick! I was about to send her a cease and desist letter last fall to stop using a photo I took of a cake to market her glitter since I knew for a fact the cake in the pic was fake (made for a styled shoot) and the glitter on the cake was not edible nor was it even her product! But by the time I went to send the letter, her site was down. I keep checking to see if she resurfaces. I’ll check for a suit in Missouri... thanks!

Sarah

Friday 3rd of November 2017

I have read on Instagram that the state she is in has opened a case against her (I think it's Missouri?) and you can file a complaint with the attorney general in that state.

Jessica Thomas

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Oh, no! I contacted her to make sure it was EDIBLE, not just non-toxic, before I ordered, and she confirmed that it was. I went to review how to apply it to the cake I'm making this week and the website is gone! Now what do I do??!?

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom

Monday 28th of November 2016

Lol! Very interesting! Yes, some things should NOT be eaten... and, sometimes the less natural it looks, the more I wonder about eating it!

Carrie curlycraftymom.com

Annie

Thursday 8th of March 2018

There are a bunch of them on etsy selling the "edible glitter" then in fact it's only use should be use as decoration only.

ElisaDesigns (out of Texas) to name just one... Beware of what you purchase! Do your homework! It's amazing how some people just don't give a shit. ( I bet they don't use their "edible glitter" on their kids treats.)