Test: Chewing gum can contain suspected endocrine disruptors

5. mar 2019

Chewing gum can contain additives that are suspected of being endocrine disrupting. Regular packs of gum still show better results when compared to gum marketed for children.

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Test of chewing gums
Photo: Anne Beck Christensen

Chewing gum: Fewer products contain unwanted chemicals

This test of chewing gum shows that half of the tested products do not contain unwanted chemicals.

The result is better than the latest test of chewing gum from November 2016. Back then only 1/3 of the tested gums were without unwanted chemicals.

You can see all the tested gums here (link to test in Danish)

Unwanted chemicals: The cocktail effect can be problematic

In this test the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals checked the ingredient lists of 155 packs of gum looking for the additives BHA (E 320) and BHT (E 321).

The additives can make the gum stay fresh longer, but they are also suspected of being endocrine disrupting.

Chewing gums which contain these chemicals are not harmful in themselves. But scientists are worried about the so-called cocktail effect from the many different chemicals that we all are exposed to in our everyday life.

It is therefore recommended that you minimize the exposure to substances that can be endocrine disrupters.

Gum for kids: These brands were without unwanted chemicals

In the test 2 out of 3 chewing gums for kids contain either BHA or BHT. This is an improvement compared to the test in November 2016. Back then 4 out of 5 contained BHA or BHT.

However regular chewing gums more often do not contain the unwanted chemicals.

20 chewing gums marketed for kids are free of unwanted chemicals. The good choices come from these brands: Pompito, Bebeto, Fini, Candinavia, Cool Bubble rolls, Esprite and The Amazing World of Gumball.

If you have further questions contact head of project Claus Jørgensen on cj@fbr.dk

Read about all tests performed by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

How we tested

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals bought chewing gum in stores on the Danish market.

The test team looked through the ingredient list of all 155 chewing gums in search for the additives BHA (E320) and BHT (E321). Both additives are legal to use I chewing gum but they are suspected endocrine disruptors. Both substances have shown endocrine disrupting effects in animal studies.

The test is a so-called declaration test. This means we have checked the ingredient lists of the products for BHA (E320) and BHT (E321). We have not analyzed the chewing gum in a lab for the content or the quantity of the substances.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals performed similar tests in 2015 and 2016.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals’ test methods

Results of the test

The declaration check of the 155 chewing gums showed the following:

  • 79 chewing gums (51 percent) contain either BHA or BHT.
  • Test in 2016: 102 chewing gums (65 percent) contain either BHA or BHT

Of these:

  • 19 contained BHA,
  • 60 contained BHT.

Chewing gum for kids

Of the 57 chewing gums for kids 37 (65 percent) contained either BHA or BHT.

In 2016 the result was 81 percent.

Regular gum

Of the 98 regular chewing gums 42 (43 percent) contained either BHA or BHT.

In 2016 the result was 48 percent.

Chewing gum with unwanted chemicals

76 packages (49 percent) of chewing gum does not contain BHA or BHT.

In 2016 the result was 35 percent.

Chewing gum for kids: Of the 57 packs of chewing gums for kids 20 was without unwanted chemicals (35 percent). In 2016 the result was only 13 packs of gum without unwanted chemicals (19 percent). So the market has improved.

Regular gum: Of the 98 packs of regular gum 56 (57 percent) was without unwanted chemicals. In this case the results from this years’ test also outperformed the test results of 2016. Back then 46 packs (52 percent) were without unwanted chemicals.

Market developments

When the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals in the spring of 2015 looked at chewing gum on the Danish market 61 percent of the products contained either BHA or BHT.

In the fall of 2016 the results were almost identical. 62 percent of 157 products contained either BHA or BHT.

This year (2019) only 51 percent contained one of the two substances.

From the first to the second test it seemed as if the producers were turning away from using BHA, but more products for this years’ actually contain BHA.

Earlier the BHA was substituted with BHT, but now it seems as if at least in half of the gums, none of the two substances are used.

This year there is also ecolabelled chewing gums on the market. Even gums which are biodegradable are on the market (according to the producers). However we have not tested this claim.