The Easter Bunny could be delivering a basketful of carcinogens this year, according to Consumer Reports.
Multiple colors of the popular, bird-shaped Peeps marshmallow candies could cause cancer because they contain an artificial coloring called Red Dye No. 3, the consumer advocacy group claimed on Monday.
“Parents should know that the purple and pink colored Peeps they may be putting in their kids’ Easter basket are made with an ingredient that is a known carcinogen,” said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for Consumer Reports, in a statement.
In all, Consumer Reports flagged nine different Peeps and other candies manufactured by Just Born Quality Confections of Bethlehem, Pa., as containing the problematic dye, including pink and lavender Peeps along with Hot Tamales candy and Wildberry Marshallow Bunnies.
The organization is also calling on the Food & Drug Administration to ban the dye in foods, delivering a petition on Monday with 35,000 consumers’ signatures.
“Red Dye No. 3 has been banned by the FDA from use in cosmetics since 1990, but inexplicably is still allowed in food,” Hansen said in the statement. “The widespread use of Red Dye 3 is particularly concerning since it is found in many products marketed to children who are especially at risk of developing health problems from exposure.”
Just Born, a century-old Bethlehem, Pa.-based company, defended Peeps and its other candies and pointed to the absence of a ban by the FDA.
“We manufacture all our candies in compliance with FDA regulations, sourcing our ingredients and packaging exclusively from reputable suppliers who adhere to high quality and safety standards,” the company said in a statement.
Just Born said consumers can also read “information on our packaging and our website to help them make informed choices about our products.”
Just Born also said in its statement, “Our product development team is continually exploring opportunities to provide expanded options for our consumers, including colors derived from natural sources that can deliver the same visual impact and stability as their certified counterparts.”
The FDA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
More than 2,900 food products on the market today contain Red Dye 3, including many artificially flavored and artificially colored candy marketed to children, according to Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that focuses on toxic chemicals.
The FDA requires manufacturers to list Red Dye 3 as an ingredient on a food’s label.
In October, 23 consumer advocacy groups sent the FDA a petition calling for a ban of Red Dye No. 3 from foods and supplements, pointing to studies showing that lab rats who ingested the dye contracted cancer.
The FDA acknowledged in 1990 that the dye causes thyroid cancer in male rats and banned its use in lipsticks and other “ingested cosmetics,” according to the petition.
“Illogically, although these external uses were deemed unsafe, ingested uses continued,” according to the petition last year.
Peeps are mostly available during the eight weeks leading up to Easter are considered the leading non-chocolate Easter candy.
Family-run Just Born launched its first digital advertising campaign in 2016 to reach a younger generation of moms, the 400 staff company told The Post at the time.
“We are entrenched with moms who skew older, but we want to pull millennial moms into our franchise,” senior brand manager Noelle Porcoro, told The Post at the time.
𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆: nypost.com
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁 firstname.lastname@example.org