FDA Warns Against Licorice Ingredient

FDA Asks Consumers To Check Labels

Author: Jennifer Dodd , Reporter, jdodd@ksat.com
Published On: Nov 14 2011 11:41:14 AM CST   Updated On: Oct 27 2011 02:57:03 AM CDT

For nearly 30 years, Bill Davis, owner of On Main, Off Main gift and candy shop, has been selling black licorice to licorice lovers from all over.

"The No. 1 seller is the Finnish licorice," Davis said.

But Wednesday, he gave his beloved black licorice a second thought because of an FDA warning.

Just days before Halloween, the FDA is asking parents to be mindful of this unique tasting candy.

The concern is an ingredient called glycyrrhizin.

"Look at the label, make sure it doesn't contain natural licorice root," registered dietitian Dr. Sue Cunningham, with the UT Health Science Center, said.

Glycyrrhizin is a sweetening compound derived from licorice root.

It's 30 to 50 times sweeter than table sugar and, according to the FDA, it's too sweet for your own good.

Just a few ounces can cause Potassium levels in the body to drop, which, in some people, can lead to irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure and heart failure.

The good news is that some candy manufacturers have stopped using glycyrrhizin in their black licorice, including Davis' licorice of choice.

"We googled it, we're legal. It's OK," Davis said.

To be sure, just look at the label.

If it has glycyrrhizin on the label, Cunningham recommends just tossing it out.