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Silver bells…okay! Silver balls… Not okay!

Watch out for those little silver balls on cookies and cupcakes this holiday season.

The pretty silver decorations known as “dragees” taste like hardened sugar (or so we hear), but should technically be labeled as “not for human consumption” when they’re sold in the U.S. The FDA doesn’t consider them a legitimate food or confectionary so they’re approved for decoration only, while other silver-looking products are FDA-approved.

“When small silver balls known as ‘silver dragees’ are sold exclusively for decorating cakes and are used under conditions which preclude their consumption as confectionery, they are not considered to be in the category of a food or confectionery,” the FDA regulations state.

The FDA’s restrictions on silver additives date back to the beginning of the agency itself, when use of many mineral additives was banned in 1906. Back then, many foods were artificially colored, but oftentimes the tactic was used to hide inferior or defective foods, according to a history published by the agency.

01 2362 ba dragee03a The FDA Says Dont Eat This Popular Holiday Dessert Decoration

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