Revealed: Oxford Street shop shelves are filled with illegal sweets

EXCLUSIVE Revealed: How Oxford Street shop shelves are filled with illegal sweets imported from the US which risk causing cancer – as parents call for clampdown amid fears millions could be giving their children the dangerous treats this Christmas

  • The revelation follows Trading Standards seizing £8,500 worth of illegal sweets 

Sweet shops on London’s Oxford Street are filled with American treats that are banned in the UK due to harmful, cancer-causing ingredients, MailOnline has found.

Popular Christmas stocking fillers such as Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish, Lemonheads and Mountain Dew drinks are imported from the States and have become widely available at high street stores, garages and corner shops.

As well as appearing on a host of confectionary shelves across the country, they are growing in popularity online, with retailers advertising the products on TikTok and Instagram.

The products all contain carcinogenic and genotoxic ingredients which are banned by the Government and pose a substantial health risk.

Earlier this week, there were calls for a clampdown on the dangerous treats after some £8,000 worth was seized following a huge raid in Staffordshire.

Now MailOnline has found that five confectioners on Britain’s biggest shopping street are selling sweets containing ingredients that the Government has banned, despite their US manufacturers not distributing them in the UK.

CandyLogo was one of five stores MailOnline identified on Oxford Street that was selling illegal American sweets

Reporters found Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, Mountain Dew and Lemonheads across the brightly lit outlets on Tuesday

Crest of London on Oxford Street was one of the five stores found to be selling banned items

Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, Mountain Dew and Lemonheads were all found across the brightly lit outlets after reports of similar items being seized emerged earlier this week.

Red 40, a food colouring in Swedish Fish, Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers, has been banned in the UK because of a link between the additives and child hyperactivity as well as immune system problems.

Sour candy Jolly Ranchers contain banned colourings Yellow 5 and Blue 1.

Twizzlers and Lemonheads that contain mineral oil, which studies say may raise the risk of cancer, were also able to be purchased on Oxford Street.

Several variations of Mountain Dew, a sugar-filled energy drink which contains calcium sodium EDTA – an ingredient believed to be linked to colon cancer – were also available at the stores.

Trading standard officers recently seized £8,000 of illegal sweets from 22 stores in Staffordshire, with more than £300 of banned confectionary found in a corner shop in Burton-upon-Trent including Jolly Ranchers, a BBC investigation found.

An estimated 3,000 products were found, amounting to about £8,500 worth of American treats.

Stephanie Young, Trading Standards team leader in Staffordshire, told the broadcaster: ‘People are selling these products not realising they have banned ingredients in them.’

She added: ‘It’s obviously getting through the ports somewhere. The volume of stuff that we get through the ports, only a small percentage will be checked.’

Visitors to the Oxford Street stores were shocked when informed these items were on sale.

Lemonheads contain mineral oil, which may raise the risk of cancer

Red 40, a banned food colouring in the UK which can increase the hyperactivity of children, is in Swedish Fish

Mountain Dew was found in Oxford Street stores on Tuesday by MailOnline

Twizzlers also contain the banned Red 40 food colouring

Sour candy Jolly Ranchers contain banned colourings Yellow 5 and Blue 1

Makeup artist Sarah visited Arch Candy & Souvenirs (also known as Prime Candy) to buy popular energy drink Prime from the merchants for her teenage nephew.

Read more: The imported US sweets containing banned additives linked to cancer and hyperactivity that are hiding on your children’s Christmas stocking wish list… 

After leaving the store empty-handed because of the price of the beverage, the Oxfordshire-based shopper said that the authorities need to clamp down on the rogue traders.

Clad in a pink hooded raincoat, Sarah said: ‘They shouldn’t be doing this – children go into shops like that because of the bright and colourful lights.

‘It absolutely makes me think twice about going in there.’

Retirees Janet McCloud and Joyce Bishop, both 70s, were on a Christmas coach jaunt to nearby Hyde Park’s winter wonderland when they visited CandyLogo at 474 Oxford Street.

The Hampshire residents also walked out of the shop without buying anything because the products inside had no price labels on them.

Festive revellers Janet and Joyce said they were aware of reports about the harmful sweets being sold in the UK – and said that it was good that this was being brought to light.

The long-time friends said they were ‘shocked’ when they were told that a small bag of Jolly Ranchers in CandyLogo costs £8.99.

American treats with ingredients banned in this country are being advertised on TikTok

Popular stocking filler treats, such as Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Lemonheads, are all imported from the US and have become widely available across the UK. As well as appearing on a host of confectionary shelves across the country, they are growing in popularity online, with ads appearing on TikTok and Instagram. While versions of the products sold in major shops have had their recipes tweaked to comply with UK rules, those with a US formulation that are unlawfully imported include prohibited chemicals

Janet said: ‘They must be breaking regulations. They need to clamp down on it. They just could be saying they’re one thing and importing another.’


Rules set by the Government’s law enforcement agency permits anyone returning to the UK to bring chocolate and confectionary, but not those made with a lot of unprocessed dairy ingredients.

Import laws in England and Wales, however, restrict those wanting to import products with ingredients that are not permitted in the UK, like mineral oil or E127.

The Food Standards Agency has also called on the UK food industry to voluntarily withdraw products which contain E110, E104, E122, E129, E102 and E124.

If a UK product or product imported into the UK contains one, or more, of the six specified colours they require a warning on the label.

This must indicate that the colours may have an adverse effect on activity and attention spans of children, the Food Standards Agency says.

‘But it’s also on the parents. They should not be bringing up their kids to want sweets.’

Joyce added: ‘We only went in there for some Haribo or something – but there are no prices and I didn’t want to take the risk.’

Workers at the stores were asked about the products on sale which are in breach of UK regulations. 

At Snack N Gifts, which, stocks Lemonheads, the shop worker, who was in her 20s, said she knew nothing about the regulations that were seemingly broken in the store.

The worker said: ‘We have not received any information. The manager is not here right now. He is not here every day. I do not know when he will be here next.’

Abdullah, who said he is a manager at CandyLogo, said that he was unaware of the reports, but when informed he refused to answer any more questions.

He said: ‘I do not know anything about this and I do not want to comment further.’

American Candy shops are currently under fire as Westminster City Council seeks to clamp down on their presence on Oxford Street.

Labour’s Cllr Greg Barraclough, who represents the street, said previously that several had been avoiding paying business rates.

The iconic HMV store on the avenue was reopened just weeks ago after a period where the premises were occupied by an American Candy store.

Westminster Council has pledged that shops seized from the American Candy retailers will be offered to small businesses free of rent.

Manufacturers of the products say they are not involved with the sale of their products in the UK. 

John Herriman, head of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), has urged parents to be aware of sweets which he says could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer, ahead of Christmas.

Mr Herriman told the Scotsman: ‘The UK prides itself on high food standards but this very much relies on Trading Standards ensuring that what is on sale complies with the law.

‘It’s therefore extremely worrying to learn that as we approach Christmas confectionary that we know will appeal to children is on sale in UK high streets, and that it could be linked to hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer.

‘Trading Standards work extremely hard to protect the public by removing dangerous products from sale, but the popularity of these items is being increased by videos on social media platforms, such as TikTok.

‘The increase in demand means importers are sending these through our ports and borders in the millions, and these are then being widely distributed and ending up in retail stores and in the hands of children.’

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